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10th Feb 2022

Pay hospitality workers more to stop staff shortages, says SIPTU chief

Hugh Carr

hospitality staff pay

“The reality is the sector is facing a crisis of low pay and poor conditions.”

SIPTU is calling on employers in the hospitality sector to pay their employees more to avoid further workforce shortages.

The trade union believes that a combination of low pay and poor working conditions are key factors in the struggle to find more staff.

“Throughout the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants and entertainment, there is an issue with the prevalence of low pay and poor working conditions,” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Denis Hynes, said.

“This is resulting in less workers taking up employment in the sector and those currently employed in it often being forced to look for alternative employment because they cannot make ends meet.

“There are clear industrial relations mechanisms such as Sectoral Employment Orders, Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements, which establish minimum standards of pay and conditions for workers through negotiations between employers and workers’ representatives,” Hynes added.

“The establishment of such minimum standards are crucial to the good functioning of sectors of our economy where low pay and lesser working conditions can be prevalent.”

“Unfortunately, many employers groups within the hospitality sector have refused to engage with workers’ representatives to agree such minimum pay and conditions.

“This is the core issue which has resulted in less workers being willing to take up employment in what is a crucial sector of our economy,” he concluded.

In a survey published by Fáilte Ireland, 42% of participants who went on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme did not return to their previous employer once restrictions were eased.

88% of employers said they were struggling to recruit chefs in particular, with 70% disclosing difficulty in finding bar staff, and 62% having trouble finding waiters.

“While proposed legislation concerning ending the ability of employers to withhold tips from hospitality workers is of benefit, the reality is the sector is facing a crisis of low pay and poor conditions,” SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Teresa Hannick, said.

“Employers groups must be brought into line in this area and strongly encouraged to engage in meaningful negotiations with workers’ representatives so the industry in Ireland can establish minimum standards which will make it attractive to workers who are facing ever increasing costs of living.”

“SIPTU representatives, as the main union for hospitality workers across the island, are always available to enter into such negotiations with employers and government for the benefit of this crucial sector of our economy,” she added.

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