HOSPITALITY chain Whitbread has dumped its commitment to workplace ethics and fair labour practices in “a slap in the face” for its workforce, the Unite union said yesterday.
The chain, which owns Premier Inn and Costa Coffee, signed the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) 18 months ago.
The ETI is based on nine “good labour practice” principles set out by the International Labour Organisation, including trade union recognition and rights to collective bargaining.
It was drawn up by unions, firms and other organisations. Members include high-street retailers The Body Shop, Co-op and H&M.
Unite said the decision to withdraw from ETI was a “slap in the face” for Whitbread’s 50,000 employees in Britain.
Not only have attempts to negotiate been ignored by bosses, but the company has even banned workers from talking about unions in the workplace, the union revealed.
Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “Whitbread’s resignation from the ETI is a snub to the workforce.
“We had high hopes that its membership would open the door to better union relations in the notoriously anti-union and exploitative UK hospitality sector.
“The UK hospitality industry is fundamentally unethical. It is built on low pay, long hours and exploitation; workers have few rights and little power.
“It’s time for the industry to stop seeing unions as ‘the enemy within’ and start working with us to change and improve the way it operates.”
Whitbread had not responded to a request for comment by the time the Star went to press.