Unite calls on Whitbread to improve staff conditions at Premier Inn

Unite calls on Whitbread to improve staff conditions at Premier Inn

Unite has called on Premier Inn-owner Whitbread to end exploitative work practices and its ‘work until you drop’ culture.

The move comes after Channel 4’s Dispatches lifted the lid on worker abuse at the hotel chain.

The programme, Undercover in Premier Inn, highlighted how staff are not being paid for all the hours they work, as well as being under continual pressure to hit punishing and unrealistic productivity targets.

Warning of reputational damage to its business, Unite called on Whitbread to change its business model which drives the supply of its housekeeping staff and to clean up its act by treating workers properly.

It can then start abiding by its own human rights policy by allowing employees workplace access to trade unions and allow them to join and form a trade union.

Unite is campaigning for better treatment of workers at Premier Inn’s 760 UK hotels and for the hotel chain to recognise Unite and allow workers access to a trade union.

Commenting, Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy, said: “Channel 4’s Dispatches has lifted the lid on Premier Inn’s exploitative work practices, with many of its findings echoing what we have been told by the hotel chain’s workers.

“The work until you drop culture, unremitting pressure on workers to hit unrealistic productivity targets, combined with staff not being paid for all the hours worked, are work practices you’d expect to find in a sweat shop not a leading hotel chain.

“Revelations such as these can cause severe reputational damage. This is at odds with Premier Inn’s brand image as a family friendly hotel chain. 

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“Customers will expect better. 

Unite has launched a petition calling on Premier Inn’s owner, Whitbread to clean up its act.

In a statement following the programme, Whitbread sought to move the blame onto partners.

The company explains: “The serious allegations in the Dispatches programme concern staff working for ISS, a multi-national company that provides outsourced housekeeping services at a small minority of our hotels. 

“As a responsible business we take our commitment to the people who work for us extremely seriously.

“We were very concerned to hear allegations of poor working practices by ISS at one of our hotels.

“We are in the process of investigating these allegations and our findings will be addressed directly with ISS.

“We insist all suppliers work to robust standards that fully cover the rights of all team members.

“We will take whatever action is necessary to resolve any issues and we do not tolerate suppliers who breach employment law or fail to meet the standards that our guests rightly expect.”

Whitbread added it directly employed its own housekeeping teams in the vast majority of its properties.

None of these have been the subject of any allegations, the company added.