Unite, the UK and Irelandâs largest union, has lodged a formal complaint to the United Nations Global Compact today (Wednesday 1 May) over the âunethicalâ anti- trade union behaviour of the worldâs fourth largest and richest hotel chain, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), in breach of its obligations under the UNâs international agreement.
The complaint includes a report, Unethical IHG,Â which details a decade of poor working practices and deliberate anti-trade union avoidance tactics across IHGâs UK hotel-estate, including housekeepers at a five star IHG-owned hotel being bullied, overworked, and then denied the right to have their grievance heard collectively.Â
IHG, which made $27.4bn last year, signed up to the UN Global Compact in 2009, committing to uphold its 10 principles including, principle 3; the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining â a move which helped secure its contract as the official hotel provider for the London Olympics in 2012.
Unite is now urging the UN Global Compact to step in after IHG managementâs repeated backtracking on allowing Unite access to the groupâs Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels in London to speak to workers, distribute union materials and represent members over nearly a decade of on-off negotiations.
On Friday (3 May) fair hospitality campaigners from Unite will also be greeting shareholders at the groupâs annual general meeting (AGM), with a call for the hotel operator to pay its UK staff the real living wage of ÂŁ9 an hour (ÂŁ10.55 an hour in London) and recognise the union.
The AGM is taking place at its flagship Intercontinental Park Lane, London W1J 7QY from 11am.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: âHotel staff at IHG branded properties, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, are being bullied, overworked and underpaid. Their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining denied.Â This is according to a report, Unethical IHG, that Unite has submitted with a complaint to the UN Global Compact over breaches to principle 3; freedom of association and collective bargaining.
âUnite wants to see the UN Global Compact step up and defend the integrity of its corporate sustainability initiative. Companies need to understand that promoting and protecting human rights at work is more than just a box ticking exercise.
âThe UN Global Compact has got to mean something. Itâs got to be genuine. If itâs not, or companies are allowed to get away with picking and choosing the bits that suit, then the whole thing is devalued.
âWhen you have room attendants reporting a culture of fear and bullying, with one saying that she is âmade to feel that I canât do anything rightâ, as her manager regularly shouts and asks if âshe can read properly.â There is a problem. When union reps are then prevented from speaking up for these very same workers, there is an even bigger problem.
âIHG needs to be a global leader and start working with Unite to root out low pay, work insecurity, bullying and exploitation in its hotels. Itâs only by working with the union and living up to its commitments that things can start to change in hospitality.â
A copy of the report can be downloaded at https://unitetheunion.org/media/2384/unethical-london-brochure-ihg-crowne-plaza.pdf
IHG: Operating under 12 different brands including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, in 100 countries, IHG is the worldâs fourth largest hotel management and hotel brand franchisor. Of its 5,600 hotels only eight are directly owned and managed by the company.
According to the groupâs most recent results, operating profits are up 8 per cent to $816m, with room growth up 4.8 per cent to 837k, and total gross revenue up 6.6 per cent to $27.4bn.
UN Global Compact: Established in 2000, companies that sign up to the UN Global Compact, commit to promoting 10 universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining which are of particular importance to Unite.
For more information please contact, Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull on 07980 721 427Â