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COVID workplace exploitation raised by Rona Mackay MSP

Exploitative work practices by some of Scotland’s largest hospitality companies was under fire this week as Rona Mackay MSP called out controversial moves to erode workers terms and conditions due to the pandemic. In a session of Portfolio Question time in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Mackay, the SNP MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, questioned the Scottish Government on what more could be done to hold unscrupulous bosses to account who are seeking to under-cut workers’ rights. The move comes after Ms. Mackay was contacted by constituents speaking out regarding perceived workplace exploitation in some of Scotland’s most well known hospitality venues. During the debate, Rona said: “Many workers in the hospitality trade have been treated very unfairly during the pandemic.

“Some high-profile venues have disregarded their rights, often by denying them furlough and eroding their terms and conditions. Does the minister agree that there must be an increased focus, now and post-Covid, on the treatment of workers, particularly those in the hospitality trade?

In response, The Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP said:

“I agree with that premise. I am acutely aware of the need for us to embed fair work practices in the hospitality sector and across the whole economy. Although I do not know the specifics of the examples to which Rona Mackay referred, I would be happy to receive the details if she wanted to provide them. Such things are happening, which is very concerning, and we must collectively commit to addressing those issues.” Commenting after the debate, Rona added: “It’s incredibly callous that some organisations are seeking to use the pandemic to erode protections and workers’ rights. “I am pleased that the Scottish Government are committed to the principles of Fair Work practices throughout the hospitality sector. It’s abundantly clear that, whilst the hospitality sector is facing an unprecedented challenge, this is not an excuse to ride roughshod over the rights of workers.

“I will continue to press for action to be taken against employers that have been proven to have broken the law. To eradicate COVID-19, we need a collective response from all, including employers who must always uphold the highest duty of care to their staff. The news comes after Unite Hospitality – the hospitality branch of Unite the Union – has been advocating for workers across the sector during coronavirus crisis. Commenting, Unite Hospitality Organiser Bryan Simpson added: “It is clear that some of Scotland’s largest hospitality chains continue to treat their workers with disdain in the midst of a global pandemic. “We’re grateful to Rona Mackay for raising this issue but we want to see further action taken by the Scottish Government to protect the working rights and protections of our members who are being left in the lurch by their employers.


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