Fears that a wave of winter layoffs is bound for the Highlands

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Covid and Brexit are hollowing out Scotland’s important migrant workers, activists claim.

As local tourism companies cut jobs during the latest coronavirus wave, the Highlands are headed for further winter layoffs, exacerbating the Brexit-induced hollowing out of the critical migrant workforce, activists warn. Unions announce a rise in redundancies, with many of those made redundant being EU people who are now forced to leave Scotland with no assurance that they will be able to return After hearing from staff who have lost their employment on a regular basis, the Scottish Tourism Workers League is calling on the Holyrood government to relate the granting of subsidies to job preservation. Workers across Scotland gained security at the start of the lockdown by coming together and requesting that their employers use the Furlough system. When bosses around the tourism industry are laying off and evicting workers instead of furloughing them in sectors such as hospitality, heritage and tour guiding, we are now helping a new generation of workers to do the same. In Oban and Inverness-shire, we started organizing staff, and now we’re hearing from people all over Scotland.

As we enter Brexit, there has been a large rise in interaction with workers from EU countries recently. Tourism workers are important to the future of Scotland and deserve better. The League was formed to help each other in jobs and accommodation disputes by tourism staff in the summer. Those in the Highlands and Islands were especially vulnerable: when in March the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore fired at least 12 employees, leaving them homeless from bound accommodation shortly after the first lockout was enforced, many did not realize that they had rights as prii

Scotland needs to be able to invest to provide long-term job stability in the industry in what we have to deliver.

And the tourism sector is vital to the survival of our communities, with large numbers of young people choosing to work in the industry. In early December, when Fisher’s Hotel in Pitlochry fired about 20 staff, most of them from EU or EEA countries, and asked them to leave their accommodation, there was a local outcry. Fionn MacCumhaill, managing director of Fisher’s owned Castle Hotel Company, said he was “a generous employer” but laid off 17 part-time seasonal workers after being refused government grants because employees superseded Fisher’s The Highlands can not afford to have those same employees deterred or even legally prohibited from returning by the acts of multinational hospitality employers as the most dependent area on hospitality and migrant workers. John Swinney, the local MSP and Deputy Prime Minister of Scotland, said there was substantial government funding to ensure that companies could keep their employees working. “John Swinney, the local MSP and Scotland’s deputy first minister, said there was considerable support from the government to ensure businesses could keep their staff employed. “

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