Published: 30/04/2020

On April 15, UK Marriott workers wrote a letter to express concern over their treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite UK government guidelines released on 26th March stating that casual workers can be furloughed and paid 80% of average annual earnings, two weeks later Marriott announced that they had “yet to determine their position” on whether casual workers could be furloughed citing ‘significant cash flow issues’ as their justification.

Marriott did not cite its March 31 159 million USD shareholder payout.

After a strong mobilization by the IUF UK affiliate Unite the Union and its members, Marriott has announced that it will move its 1,500 casual workers onto the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

Unite industrial organiser (Unite Hospitality) Bryan Simpson said: “As the world’s biggest and richest hotel group, it was inconceivably unfair for Marriott to discriminate between permanent and casual staff in this way and then to claim that it didn’t have the money to furlough some of their poorest and most precarious workers, particularly when 80 per cent would be covered by the taxpayer.”

Furthermore, “Our members agreed and they banded together to organise through their trade union, many for the first time launching a collective campaign to demand 100 per cent wages including conference calls, online actions and a joint letter to the president of Marriott Europe,” he added.

Elsewhere Marriott workers are still struggling to receive fair treatment during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the US, IUF affiliate UNITE HERE proposed measures to Marriott on preserving healthcare benefits and employees’ right to recall post-COVID-19, both of which Marriott has refused.

In India, the Palladium Hotel Employees Union at the St Regis Hotel in Mumbai is resisting management pressure to sign an agreement that would cut salaries by 20%. In its letter to the HR Manager, the union points out that the “Government order clearly states to refrain from job cuts, salary deduction or any other changes in the employment due to the current situation.”

A shocking report comes from Kenya where the IUF-affiliated KUDHEIHA reports that four workers at the Four Points Sheraton in Nairobi Hurlingham had been tested positive COVID-19, exposing the lack of health and safety measures at the hotel. Workers have recovered and are now at home.