Hospitality group halts staff dismissal plans as job retention scheme announced
One of Scotland’s largest hospitality companies has stopped plans to dismiss its newest staff members, after the UK Government announced a job retention scheme.
A trade union previously claimed the G1 Group in Glasgow had terminated staff contracts amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Unite Hospitality said it they had heard from staff who had been fired without notice on Thursday from their jobs, if they had worked with the company for less than two years.
But a statement from G1 late on Friday suggests no such action will take place during the “most difficult and challenging circumstances we have ever encountered”.
It said: “Within the last 24 hours, we were forced to start the very painful task of working through the possible changes needed.
“Although we had to make the difficult decision to give notice to a significant number of our workforce, wherever possible we implemented short-term lay-off notices instead, in the hope that we could return them to work at the earliest opportunity.
“We worked tirelessly to redeploy 40 of our employees into the retail sector of our business and were still trying to desperately problem-solve today.
“We want to clarify that due to the size of our business and therefore associated running costs, we were left with little choice but to start the difficult but correct processes with our staff as soon as practically possible.
“That said – we quite deliberately chose to refrain from completing our formal process in the hope that the Government would announce additional support.
“We, like employers and employees alike, received the news of the job retention scheme with relief and happiness and have today stopped all proposed action in its tracks as a result.”
The company will now review details of the announcement “as soon as they become available” although venues will still shut because of further government advice.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed there will be “no limit” to the funding needed to pull the UK economy and its workers through the crisis.
Among the measures announced are a VAT holiday worth around £30 billion and a fund for workers to receive 80% of their pay.
In a short statement on Twitter, Unite Hospitality wrote: “In 24 hours hundreds of workers have clubbed together and forced the biggest employer in the industry to reinstate the majority of its workforce.
“This must be an example across the country of workers fighting back.
The PA news agency earlier on Friday spoke to three former employees who said they were dismissed from their jobs at Glasgow venues and promised one week’s pay in lieu of notice.
Usman Mohammed, 24, who worked at the Grosvenor Cafe in Glasgow, says he was called by the general manager of the venue on Thursday to be told his contract was terminated.
He told the PA news agency: “She essentially said that due to the ongoing circumstances the venue was being closed down and my contract was being terminated.”
He also said he was told he would have to re-apply for his position when the bar reopens.
He added: “This has been handled very poorly.”
Posts on social media pages of the group’s venues, including the Corinthian Club, Committee Room No. 9 and the Grosvenor Cafe, announced plans to close the businesses due to the outbreak.
Staff at the Grosvenor had written to the company, and owner Stefan King, calling for negotiations to take place.
The letter claims 70 staff were fired, which they allege is in violation of government “collective consultation” rules which say there must be a consultation period along with 30 days’ notice if more than 20 members of staff are made redundant.