London hotels 'unfit for Olympics' say campaigners

Central London hotels are addicted to low wages and migrant labour and offer poor value for money, according to a joint report in Parliament on Wednesday night by Unite the Union and London Citizens, the capital's largest civic alliance, which includes dozens of Catholic parishes.

Rooms for Change: putting London hotels on track for the Olympics argues that key to making the city's hotels fit for 2012 is adopting the London Living Wage (LLW), endorsed by the mayor, Boris Johnson, and currently set at £7.45.

London's hotels are not, at present, fit for 2012, claims the report, which draws on interviews with hotel workers, clients, cleaning agencies and hotel managers in London and abroad.

"The heart of the problem is the treatment of workers and the management's reliance on a transitory, migrant labour force that is hired and fired and will," says the report. "'Dickensian' is not too strong a word to describe the conditions that prevail in some of London's leading hotels."

Since LONDON CITIZENS created and began campaigning for the London Living Wage (LLW) in 2001, it has been adopted by dozens of institutions and companies.

HSBC, Barclays, KPMG, the Tate Gallery, the Department of families, Schools and Children, Westfield shopping centre, and Tower Hamlets council are among those who have been persuaded by LONDON CITIZENS to adopt the LLW.

Independent researchers at Queen Mary College calculate that since 2005 £32m has been put into the pockets of the low-paid as a result of the LLW campaigns.

But although the Hilton chain has held meetings with WEST LONDON CITIZENS and Unite the Union regularly since 2007, no hotel has yet adopted the LLW.

The 'Rooms for Change' campaign argues that adopting the LLW and investing in training will transform conditions in London's hotels, enabling them to compete on service rather than low-wage transitory labour.

In addition to the LLW, it says unions should be allowed to meet employees, and hotels should invest in training and support English classes for their workers.

Rooms for Change also calls for an agreement to be signed by hotels which sets out minimum terms and conditions for all workers.

The report was launched last night at a meeting hosted by the Catholic MP Jon Cruddas and the trade unionist Jack Dromey. There were speeches by hotel workers and members of parishes and mosques in membership of LONDON CITIZENS.

The report can be downloaded at

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