Union calls for conference venue owners to pay living wage

A union chief has called on hoteliers and conference
centre operators to follow a venue’s example and pay all staff the living wage.

Barnett Hill, a hotel and conference centre
in Surrey, is the first residential venue in the country to win accreditation
as a Living Wage employer.

The centre is
part of the Sundial group which has committed to pay all employees at the
Guildford venue at least the hourly wage of £7.85.

Research by
KPMG revealed that 5.2m people in the UK earn less than the Living Wage.
Occupations with the highest proportion of low wage earners were all found to
be in the hospitality sector – affecting 90% of bar staff, 85% of waiting staff
and 80% of kitchen and catering assistants.

In 2012, the InterContinental Hotels group committed to
phased pay rises in each of its eight managed hotels in London to bring all
staff onto the Living Wage by 2017.

Tim Chudley, managing
director of Sundial Group, said: “We are proud to be leading the hospitality
sector as Barnett Hill becomes the first hotel and conference centre to receive
the Living Wage accreditation. The hotel sector has been slow to respond to the
call for better pay and this step differentiates Sundial Group as an employer
that truly values and rewards its lowest paid team members. We are also
committed to the accreditation for our other venues, Highgate House and
Woodside, within the next two years.

“Although we
will certainly have higher direct staff payroll overheads than many of our
competitors, I don’t believe that this is justification for not rewarding our
front line people properly. We will have to continue to ensure that our value
for money in the eyes of our clients justifies our pricing, we cannot just pass
on the cost without benefit.”

Unite
regional officer, Dave Turnbull, said: “Barnett Hill has shown that it can be
done. Unite is now calling on all hotels and conference centres to follow this
lead and pay hospitality staff the living wage.

“The
fact remains that London hotels are among the most expensive in the world yet
not one of them pays the living wage of £9.15 per hour, the price of a couple
of coffees in the capital city. 

“Work
should pay, but for tens of thousands of hotel workers on poverty pay it
doesn’t pay enough to afford life’s essentials. In a city as wealthy as London
there can be no excuses for hotels not paying its workforces the living wage.”

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Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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