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London one of most ‘unethical tourist destinations in the world’, says Unite

The Unite union has accused global hotel chains of making London one of the most unethical tourist destinations in the world.

The report, titled Unethical London, claims that low pay and exploitative work practices have been allowed to “flourish unchecked in the multi-billion pound hotel industry.”

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The report found that 90% of housekeeping staff surveyed were in “constant pain” caused by their job, while 84% of housekeeping staff said they suffer from back pain.

Some 53% of front of house staff surveyed frequently miss meal and rest breaks because of workload and staff shortages, and 78% of chefs said they have had a ‘near miss’ or accident at work due to feeling overtired.

It quotes hotel workers who claim they are “destroyed” by long working hours, with one person commenting their job is akin to “slavery” and another claiming staff members are treated like “dirt”.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite London regional secretary said: “The London hotel sector is failing its workforce. It has become a byword for low pay and exploitation. If these stories tell us anything, it is that shameful work practices, similar to those exposed at Sports Direct, have no place in 21st Century Britain.”

Unite is calling on all hotels in the capital to adopt a set of city-wide principles, based on upon the key provisions of the OECD guidelines, the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code and the United Nations Global Compact.

This would include respecting the right of employees to join a union, ensuring zero tolerance of workplace bullying, fair and transparent distribution of tips and ensuring the health and safety of employees is protected.

The union also said it wants to engage in a “genuine ongoing dialogue” regarding the phasing in of the London Living Wage as a minimum standard for all employees, which currently stands at £9.40 an hour.

Some 100,000 people work in London’s hotel sector, which includes small boutique hotels and large global chains.

The union is staging a protest in the capital on Tuesday to highlight its complaints.

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