October 1st: Unite hospitality members in Northern Ireland plan day of solidarity with strikers in McDonald’s, Witherspoon’s and TGIFridays this Thursday [October 4th]
Exploitation in hospitality sector is so pervasive that Conservative government has been forced under pressure to legislate to end theft of staff tips
Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, called for clarity on whether legislation to make illegal the deduction of staff tips by bosses would extend to Northern Ireland.
“This announcement will come as long-overdue but welcome news to hospitality workers across England, Scotland and Wales. There are many questions including whether this legislation will cover all the various scams used by bosses to steal their workers’ tips but the one in the minds of hospitality workers in Northern Ireland will be whether they face being left behind yet again as a result of the protracted political deadlock.
“It really says a lot about the pervasive nature of exploitation in the UK hospitality sector that it requires the legislative intervention of the Tories to put a stop to the theft of staff tips but no one should be fooled that the Conservative government is bringing forward this law because they care about working class people; the reality is that they have been forced to take this action by the huge pressure that has been building up over this issue.
“Legislation alone will never be enough to prevent exploitation in the workplace – only trade union strength can force bosses to end the exploitation of their employees. Unite’s ambition for hospitality workers is that their pay rates are good enough that they don’t have to rely on their tips for decent standard of living”, Ms Fitzgerald said.
Responding to the news, hospitality worker and Unite activist, Neil Moore, highlighted his union’s ongoing efforts to raise the bar for staff in the hospitality sector:
“Hospitality workers in Northern Ireland will be demanding that this legislation be extended to Northern Ireland when it is adopted in England, Scotland and Wales. We don’t want to be left behind again as a result of political failure.
“The Conservative party has brought forward this legislation under pressure. Unite the union has been at the fore of efforts to highlight the theft of staff tips by bosses. Our efforts in challenging the exploitation by bosses of hospitality employees will continue – we need to see action on far more issues than just making sure 100% of tips go to workers.
“This Thursday hospitality workers and Unite activists here will be bringing forward a day of solidarity action with the historic coordinated strike action being taken in McDonald’s, Witherspoon’s and TGIFridays. We can’t afford to rely on the Tory government – the only way for hospitality workers to raise the bar is through being part of a fighting union like Unite”, Mr Moore concluded.
The Workers’ Party have said that the revelation that almost one million people are on the country’s hospital waiting lists should be a source of deep shame for all parties and independents deputies who have served in government over the last two decades.
The party’s County Meath representative, Seamus McDonagh, said that while being the collator of this information, Fianna Fáil was no position to crow about it, being the party which had, along with the PD’s Mary Harney, created the HSE and which maintains the present coalition in power. Neither could the non-party ministers in the present government escape blame.
Mr. McDonagh said: “Most of the political parties currently in Dáil Éireann have been in power at some stage over the past 15 to 20 years. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Greens have all sat at cabinet level and were there as our health service went from bad to worse Each has been propped up by a collection of independent deputies. This malaise in our public health service is their collective fault”.
The Workers’ Party representative said the one million people on hospital waiting lists, while shocking, would come as no surprise to those people or their families. “This is an appalling indictment of this state as it approaches 100 years of existence. No amount of public relations dressing would explain it away. Words like ‘crisis’ and ‘emergency’ become meaningless with nearly quarter of the population waiting to see a specialist or for a procedure which might for them mean the difference between life and death”. said Seamus McDonagh
In conclusion he said the extent of the waiting lists and the record of successive governments did not inspire confidence that the changes of the type outlined in the Sláintecare plan, not withstanding its shortcomings and lack of detail, would be realised.
Dick Roche, Workers’ Party representative in Waterford has accused the government of being completely indifferent to those on public hospital waiting list.
Mr. Roche was speaking as it emerged that the number of people on hospital waiting lists had reached some 707,000 people, the highest ever recorded and representing more than one in seven people. More than 36,000 of those affected are on the waiting list for Waterford University Hospital.
Dick Roche said, “The number of people on hospital waiting lists has sky-rocketed under the present government and there is no sign that they are treating this issue with the urgency it deserves. Rather it is regarded as an inconvenience on a growing ‘To Do’ list on the desk of Minister Simon Harris.”
“Every one of these 707,000 is an individual who is experiencing doubt, worry and often pain. There seems little empathy in the response of the government or urgency to significantly deal with the issue. This is beyond a national crisis, it is an absolute emergency and unless significant dents can be made in these figures they will continue to climb upwards towards the one million mark”, said Dick Roche.
The Workers’ Party spokesman said that the Waterford and South East area was one of the most badly hit and there was a sense that the health crisis in the region had gone off the radar over the past year. “The people of Waterford and surrounding counties need to raise our voices once more and make this an issue that the current government and its supporters cannot afford to ignore.”