The Labour Court has found that five housekeeping staff at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin, who have been at the centre of a dispute over pay cuts for the past month, should be returned to the roster on their original rates of remuneration.
In a recommendation issued today, the Labour Court also said that the hotel staff should be paid all the monies they would have earned had they not been removed from the work roster in early February.
Both management at the hotel, which forms part of the O’Callaghan Hotel Group and the trade union Siptu, which represented the staff, had agreed to be bound by the finding of the Labour Court. The hotel is operated by a company known as Persian Properties.
The dispute at the Davenport Hotel was believed to be the first over attempts by a company to reduce pay for existing personnel since the out-going Government cut the National Minimum Wage rate in February.
In its recommendation the Labour Court found that the workers involved in the dispute were accommodation assistants who had been paid the previous National Minimum Wage rate of €8.65per hour.
It said that at a meeting on the 25th January last the five workers concerned and colleagues from other hotels in the group were advised of a pending pay cut.
“It was claimed that the cut was necessary because of the reduction in the National Minimum Wage.”
It said that in late January all the minimum wage earners were again called to a meeting at which they were called on individually to sign a form giving their employer consent to implement a 10 per cent pay cut with effect from 1st February 2011, thereby reducing their pay from €8.65 per hour to €7.80 per hour.
“The five Workers concerned refused to sign the form and were called to a third meeting on the 1st February 2011 and advised that if they did not sign the form they would be removed from the roster. As the Workers still refused to sign the form they were removed from the roster and also from the payroll.”
Siptu argued that there was no agreement on the part of the staff to the pay cut. It said that the employer had sought the workers’ consent to the pay reduction but with the clear implication that if it was not given they would be removed from the payroll,with the possibility of having no earnings as opposed to earning less.
The Company maintained that due to a most difficult trading period it had no choice but to take out significant costs and stay open for business. It said that labour costs were a very significant part of its total operating costs. It said that its primary interest was one of job security for its employees and hence the approach to all employees to reduce pay.
Labour Court deputy chairman Brendan Hayes said that in the absence of any financial or trading information that would justify the need for a pay reduction or the availability of fair and reasonable procedures for securing worker’s approval thereto or for resolving disagreement with the proposal, the Court found that the Employer’s actions were “not fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of this case”.
This type of blatant exploration of the low paid workers has to be stopped dead in it s track. I will not be recommending this hotel to any of my friends anytime soon and I hope other hotels do take a hard look at the lessons that are to be learned here .Better service and more attention to detail and reasonable prices is the only way to having a successful hotel business. Good old-fashioned service with a smile and attention to detail has always distinguished proper run hotels from the cowboy operators.
I would never have expected the Davenport would stoop so low!