London staff shortage 'self-inflicted crisis'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

London calling: many furloughed pub and bar staff returned to their homes overseas and do not wish to return because of low pay, a union has said (image: Getty / Eachat)
London calling: many furloughed pub and bar staff returned to their homes overseas and do not wish to return because of low pay, a union has said (image: Getty / Eachat)

Related tags: lockdown, Hospitality, coronavirus, Legislation, Health and safety

London's hospitality staff shortage is “largely a self-inflicted crisis of the industry’s own creation,” a union officer has said while calling for higher wages.

Unite the union has called on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to crack down on low pay and zero hours in the capital.

The Mayor pledged to support pubs and bars who are struggling to recruit after a “double whammy” of Covid and fresh visa regulations. 

However, Union has said the shortage is “self-inflicted” as more than 270,000 workers were made redundant despite ongoing Government job support.

“Many furloughed workers went back to their country of origin and have decided not to come back to a sector which previously treated them so badly,” Unite national officer with responsibility for hospitality Dave Turnbull said.

He added: “Equally, large numbers, who found temporary work in other sectors, have decided there are better options available to them.

Endemic low pay

“The mayor needs to address the endemic low pay and zero hours culture which blights the industry and makes it such an unattractive option for UK- born workers.”

Visas granted for hospitality jobs should be conditional on pay rates of at least the London Living Wage and guaranteed contractual hours,” Turnbull said.

The Mayor of London had called on the Government to review “damaging changes” to visa rules and give cities like London devolved powers to fill vacancies suffering “acute shortages.”

“It's something that would directly boost our economic recovery when we need it most,” Khan said.

Unite has also urged Khan to set up a task force to work on a “sustainable recovery plan” for London tourism and hospitality.

“Workers representatives, as key stakeholders, must without exception be given equal representation to employers on such a task force,” Turnbull added.

Recruitment woes

Trade bodies including UKHospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association have said the Government must push ahead with lockdown lifting to restore confidence in hospitality jobs.

A UKHospitality survey found 80% of hospitality operators reported vacancies for front of house roles and 85% needed chefs.

The survey of hundreds of hospitality operators suggested a current sector-wide vacancy rate of 9%, implying a shortage of 188,000 workers.

Operators told The Morning Advertiser​ they have seen front of house and kitchen staff quit in pursuit of other careers as well as struggling to recruit for new roles needed to comply with Covid rules.

  • What has your experience of staffing been after lockdown? Get in touch with your thoughts on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

Related topics: Legislation

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