23 July 2018
Hotel workers on the Isle of Skye, which is currently experiencing a tourism boom, have complained that they are being denied their employment rights.
Both trade union officials and the area’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) told the Guardian that they had received reports of such issues as low pay, long hours, a lack of contracts, no access to annual leave, the withholding of holiday pay, unpaid work, poor accommodation and unfair dismissal. The Skye and Lochalsh CAB dealt with 485 cases in 2016-2017 alone, the majority of which involved hotel and restaurant workers.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) added that seasonal workers – who are often migrants – are at particular risk of exploitation, and warned that zero-hours contracts and gig work is infecting the hospitality and tourism industries.
Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, told the Guardian: “Underneath the celebrated tourist trends something isn’t right.”
Manager of the local CAB, Morag Hannah, added that it was very difficult for workers to stand up for their rights alone.
“A lot of employees are scared to rock the boat – especially if it’s seasonal work – by discussing their rights with their employers, in case they’re treated less favourably or lose their shifts,” she said.
Indeed, one hotel worker told the Guardian that he had been dismissed for challenging his employer when he was not paid for 100 hours of overtime.
“The day I got paid I queried it and said I was going to seek legal advice, and they kicked me off the premises and told me I had 15 minutes to pack my bags,” he said.
“There is no use waiting for hotel owners to change exploitative conditions in the interests of profit or goodwill,” Dave Moxham said. “Local and seasonal workers now need to fight them by coming together and asserting their rights.”