Coronavirus: PM tells businesses to ‘stand by staff’ ahead of today’s support package announcement


Prime minister Boris Johnson told businesses in his latest address to “think carefully” before laying off staff ahead of the announcement of a support package for workers later today (Friday, 20th March).

Johnson said, “My message to companies is think very carefully before you start laying off staff. Stand by your staff because we will stand by you. And you will hear more about that in the course of the next day or so.

“The chancellor will be saying more about the package we are putting in place for workers across the country to support everybody through this difficult time. We’ve been talking to the trade unions, and others, and we think we have a great package ready to go. So, I hope people will stick by their employees because we’re all going to need them.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak met with business groups and unions yesterday afternoon and will join the prime minister at the daily press conference later today to announce measures to help employees.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls tweeted in response, “We have put forward a simple proposal that could be implemented immediately and avoid people having to apply for universal credit worrying about their income – reverse PAYE and direct that cash support to workers through the payroll. It could be done immediately.

“Give a National Insurance Contribution and VAT holiday to keep cash in the business to pay wages. Businesses with no income want to stand by their people and do the right thing – it is government in-action that is stopping us and it is heart-breaking.”

This announcement came on the same day that staff at the Britannia Hotels-owned Coylumbridge Hotel near Aviemore were sacked by letter, with those who live at the hotel being asked to leave immediately.

The letter said that the hotel was “taking the latest government advice” and that staff employment had been terminated. Macdonald Hotels has since stepped in with offers of accommodation to those affected.

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance condemned the move, saying, “The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has been in touch with tourism businesses all over Scotland throughout the night regarding the decision Britannia Hotels took yesterday to shed all staff from their jobs and accommodation in Aviemore by way of letter and its decision to close three hotels.

“This is not reflective of the approach of any business we know, or our members and all have come out to condemn the deplorable actions of this company.

“Aside from the approach, the letter sent to employees lacked any compassion or humanity in tone; it was cold, brutal and shocking.  We have never encountered anything like this.

“This is the most difficult time that Scotland’s tourism industry will ever face; the crisis has hit every business, family and community.  We have seen nothing but compassion and respect across the sector, in the most dire of circumstances which is testament to the spirit and strength of the people who work in Scottish tourism. We applaud the swift actions of Macdonald Hotels to offer accommodation to all of those affected by the closure of Britannia Hotels in Aviemore.”





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