Staff at a hotel in the Scottish Highlands have been sacked on the spot and told to leave their accommodation immediately – with the company pinning the blame on government coronavirus advice.
A letter was sent to workers at the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore – which is run by the notorious Britannia Hotels group – who appear to have made the decision based on advice from the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
When contacted by the PA news agency, a member of staff at the hotel said some people had been affected, but that it was not 30 as had been reported elsewhere.
But the letter, circulating on social media along with calls for a boycott, has been slammed by politicians and the public alike, with Britannia being hammered for offering ‘one week’s pay in lieu of notice’ despite new measures to help businesses. It says: ‘Taking the latest government advice, this letter is to confirm that with effect from March 19 2020, your employment has been terminated as your services are no longer required.
‘Your final payslip will include all hours worked up to and including your final day, together with any accrued holidays not already taken and one week’s pay in lieu of notice.
‘You are asked to vacate the hotel accommodations immediately, returning any company property to John Macfarlane, Hotel Controller before leaving the hotel.’
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In October 2019, Brittania was ranked Britain’s worst hotel chain for the seventh year running, with guests reporting unflushed poo, and a dead pigeon rotting outside a window.
The letter, from Holding General Manager Mark Johnston, continues: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in securing future employment and thank you for your time at Britannia Hotels.’
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, labelled the ‘brutal’ move ‘unacceptable behaviour’, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today Show that ‘no one should be treated like that’.
It comes just days after the Scottish Government announced financial actions being taken to help businesses across the country affected in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The hospitality sector was one of the first to receive special support with a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief announced on Wednesday.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes tweeted: ‘It’s a tough time for everybody, that’s why we’ve tried to help the hospitality industry, so it’s disappointing to see what appears to be the heartless treatment of staff.’
Drew Hendry – MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey – called the hotel’s move ‘unacceptable’.
He also said: ’It is a worrying time for the hotel trade and urgent support is needed, but everyone is in this emergency together.
‘This fails even the most basic test of how to treat people. I have written asking them to rescind these letters.’
Mr Hendry continued: ‘I have offered to help to discuss how a different path can be taken that seeks to support everyone affected fairly and humanely.
‘If ever there was a time for looking out for others, this is it, even when businesses are rightly concerned.
‘Got to say, where the letter from the Coylumbridge Hotel was shocking, it is just fabulous the way the wider community is rallying round with offers of support for those affected on my FB page.
‘Well done to our communities.’
Comments on the Facebook page include offers of accommodation from other nearby hotel owners.
Metro.co.uk has attempted to contact the hotel chain for comment.
Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs as the economic crisis from the coronavirus continues to escalate.
Later today, the Chancellor is set to announce further financial measures to prop up the economy and help those in need.
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