BHA slammed for suggesting UK workers are unemployable

14 January 2008 by
BHA slammed for suggesting UK workers are unemployable

The chief executive of the British Hospitality Association has been slammed for suggesting that UK workers are "unemployable".

Speaking at a Parliamentary inquiry into tourism, Bob Cotton said it was a "no brainer" whether hospitality employers hired a Pole or a Briton.

"People have got to want to turn up every day," he said. "The local people, we find, do not have the motivation to turn up each day and once they've worked 15 hours a week their benefits start to be removed - so there's no motivation to want to work more than 15 hours.

"If you're an employer and have a keen person from Poland, who is bright, smiling, wants to work, who turns up every day, will work 45 to 50 hours a week against a person who turns up one day, doesn't turn up the next, isn't really interested, it's a no-brainer," he added.

Cotton told The Mail on Sunday that his industry considered British applicants "unemployable".

"You don't need enormous skills to be a waiter or a chambermaid, just the motivation to work," he said.

Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, said the comments were "nothing short of outrageous".

"I would be amazed if these comments were representative of the BHA's members and I can assure you that they are 100% in conflict with our approach," he said.

"Local employees are fundamental in providing a strong service culture in tourism. Over the last 12 months, we have worked very hard with government and the London Mayor's Skills and Employment Board to give more opportunity to the local unemployed.

"We will continue to encourage the rest of the industry to take this approach but for our industry body to undermine the British workforce like this is extremely regrettable," Hearn added.

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price said: "For this man, who is the chief spokesman of Britain's hotels, to write off British workers like this is astonishing.

"The problem isn't that British workers can't do the job, it's that this sector pays a pittance not a living wage. It is utterly unsustainable to rely on foreign labour that will one day dry up."

About 1.2 million out of the 1.8 million workers employed by BHA members are now from overseas.

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By Daniel Thomas

E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.

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