Pandemic reveals severe impacts for culture and hospitality workers

By November 18, 2020NEWS

Ahead of its annual Congress on Tuesday, the STUC released a report revealing the extent of the damage being done to workers across the hospitality and culture sectors.

  • Hospitality and the creative industries are the two sectors that have furloughed the highest proportion of workers.
  • Workers in creative industries are more than twice as likely to be working two jobs than the workforce in general.
  • Unions are reporting an increasing number of workers who work in both creative industries and hospitality and face an uncertain future.
  • 20% of workers aged 25 and under work in these two sectors, compared to 6% for workers older than 25.
  • Low earners are five-times more likely to be furloughed on reduced pay, and hospitality and the arts are the two sectors with the highest proportion of employees furloughed without having their pay topped up.
  • An estimated 66,000 workers in hospitality and 16,000 workers in the arts, in Scotland, were paid less than the minimum wage when furloughed. Across Scotland as a whole, up to 190,000 workers received less than the minimum wage after being furloughed.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said:

“Workers across Scotland are suffering during the pandemic, and it doesn’t get much worse than for low paid workers in the culture and hospitality sectors, many of whom work multiple jobs part-time across both industries to make ends meet. We know that thousands of self-employed workers and employed workers who did not qualify for Furlough are in particularly dire straits. Its bad news for them, but its also bad news for the culture of our country.

“Having dithered throughout the summer and cost thousands of jobs, the Chancellor’s 11th hour extension of the Furlough Scheme provided at least some relief as unions rushed to support workers in requesting their employers continued or re-employed them on Furlough. But even those who have been reprieved have now spent months on far less than the minimum wage.

“The only good news is that where we see workers joining and becoming active in unions we have managed to have some influence on the disbursement of funds to the creative sector and to support workers in pressing employers to retain them on Furlough. Because workers got organised, millions of pounds have been brought into the Scottish economy from the UK Treasury which would otherwise have been lost”

Morgan Tooth Edinburgh Chair of Unite Hospitality which recently released its New Deal for Hospitality said:

“This report shows the impact on the tens of thousands of precarious workers in the hospitality, events and creative arts sectors, but statistics can’t convey the full extent of the devastation.

Zero hours contract staff who already struggle to make ends meet have had to fight tooth and nail for 80% of peanuts. Tips that often make the difference between paying rent and paying rent and eating have not been taken into account. The self-employed who work in sound and lighting, teching events, performers, DJs, artists, and more, have been left out in the cold.

Many employers are still refusing to use the furlough scheme, and I am still dealing with daily redundancies across the hospitality and arts sectors, at every level and every pay grade.

“The report can’t paint the whole picture, but it does highlight just how necessary further Government intervention is in order to prevent a full-scale collapse of our sector.”

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