Our hospitality sector is in the “last chance saloon”, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned as he called on the UK and Scottish Governments to take concrete action to save jobs.

Trade union Unite will launch its campaign for Hospitality & Tourism Rescue Plan on Wednesday evening and Colin Smyth has given the campaign his full backing.

The campaign demands:

·         A sector-specific Job Retention Scheme

·         Adequate sick pay and routine tests for hospitality workers

·         Training for the future

·         A tripartite Hospitality Commission of employers, unions and government

·         Support conditional upon fair work

Unite Hospitality, which has criticised ministers for failing to consult before imposing the current restrictions on hospitality, is calling on the Scottish Government to provide sector specific funding to ensure hospitality workers can be furloughed. Any Scottish Government support should be conditional upon it being used to retain workers in accordance with fair work principles, the union has said.

Despite the Scottish Government bringing in extra restrictions on pubs two weeks ago as a short term circuit breaker, restrictions are set to continue from 2 November for an indefinite period.

At level two- likely to include Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders- pubs will only be able to sell alcohol inside with a “main meal” until 8 pm and in beer gardens until 10.30pm. Many pubs in the area will remain closed as they do not serve food or have space for a beer garden.

In level three areas – likely to be all of Ayrshire and East Lothian – they can reopen until 6pm but cannot serve alcohol inside or outside.

At level four- which may include Lanarkshire- all hospitality will have to close.

Colin Smyth said: “The south of Scotland has a high proportion of people employed in the tourism and hospitality sectors and they have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Hundreds of people have lost their jobs and sadly, hundreds more will be facing unemployment as the new restrictions are enforced in the coming weeks.

“As yet, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and the UK and Scottish Governments have failed to give the sector the level of support it needs to survive the pandemic – and now it is in the last chance saloon.

“I fully support Unite’s campaign and I urge Government ministers to take the action we need to save this sector and the huge number of jobs it supports.”

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