by Colin Campbell
THE woman I recently wrote about who was leaving her homeless accommodation flat near where I live for a live-in hotel job was pretty cheerful as she departed for her new workplace further north.
The hotel she has gone to is fairly remote, and not that easy to get to. But she had no worries about bus routes or taxi fares. The hotel boss drove down in his big car to pick her up himself.
Before she left she said he’d fairly candidly expressed his satisfaction that she’d agreed to take the job, of general assistant. “He said he’s struggling badly to get people,” she added.
She will be paid £10 an hour for a 40 hour week, plus overtime for any additional hours. That could work out at £1,700 a month before tax and national insurance, which will reduce her income only by a fairly small amount. And her live-in accommodation means she won’t have to worry about rent, electricity or food bills, which needless to say is a huge plus.
Having some hotel experience, if she’d pulled out at the last minute I might have gone myself.
Hotel owners everywhere have been complaining for months about the difficulty in getting workers since they fully reopened after covid.
Because of Brexit and the virus, the endless supply of cheap foreign labour they used to be able to rely on has completely dried up. The days of, “shape up, sharpen up or I’ll easily get someone to replace you” have gone for good.
In Inverness it is now routine to see an hourly going rate of £10 an hour on offer, as opposed to the minimum wage that used to be paid by virtually all hoteliers for staff in the broad “general assistant” category.
That won’t seem a King’s Ransom to those in comfortable salaried jobs who are used, as I was, to the money just flowing into their bank accounts each month.
But compared with the minimum wage, £10 an hour amounts to a wage increase of around £180 a month, very welcome indeed for those in the lower income category.
As the tourist season comes round, with hotels likely to be still struggling to get staff, the hourly rate may rise even further.
Hotel work is hard graft. Malingerers and those who don’t put their backs into it deserve to be weeded out and got rid off.
But the many hard working people who put in a good shift deserve to be properly paid for it. Until recently, the minimum wage conditions didn’t give them a fair deal.
Now because of the major change caused by Brexit, hotels and other workplaces in the hospitality industry are competing for staff. And this tourist season, the first fully operational one for three years, people doing these jobs can expect a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
That will never be recognised by fatcat MPs like Drew Hendry and others of his ilk amid their ongoing Brexit lamentations.
But it’s a fact that is welcomed by the local people Hendry and co are paid to represent.