Welsh Government must urgently demand that the UK Government reboots the furlough scheme in response to the ‘perilous’ public health situation, the Wales Trades Union Congress (Wales TUC) has said.
In a letter to the First Minister, they highlight that the cancellation of Christmas parties and concerts due to concern about the Omicron variant will impact workers in sectors like hospitality, where insecure employment practices are common.
Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj said: “Sectors like hospitality are being severely impacted by the changing public health situation, with Christmas dos and other events already being cancelled. Unions are already hearing from people working in restaurants, bars and music artists who are having shifts and gigs cancelled at very short notice, and won’t be getting paid.
“While organisers are doing the right thing if they’ve assessed that these events can’t go ahead safely, it has a huge knock on effect on workers in sectors like hospitality. Many simply won’t be paid for the missed shifts because of the way in which they’re employed.
“These workers need urgent help – many of them will not be Universal Credit claimants and will have to wait weeks before their benefits come if they are laid off and forced to claim now. These are also typically low paid roles, so these workers are far less likely to have savings to fall back on. It’s absolutely essential that the Chancellor listens to the trade union movement and reboots the furlough scheme so that workers’ Christmas pay packets aren’t empty.”
Earlier this week the TUC called for the UK Government to reintroduce the furlough scheme in response to new restrictions in England.
In previous lockdowns, research by Wales Fiscal Analysis found that an estimated 228,000 people worked in shutdown sectors like hospitality and non-essential retail in Wales. Low earners in Wales were ten times more likely to work in a shutdown sector than high earners. Women, younger people and workers of Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Pakistani ethnicity were significantly more likely to be working in shutdown sectors in Wales.