The report of the Scottish Government's Tourism Task Force published on Friday contains much to be welcomed but falls seriously short in its ambition to deliver safe, fair workplaces for tourism workers and fails to address the need for demand creation amongst a population facing the economic uncertainty of extended social restrictions.
The report highlights the critical needed for a continuation of support for workers, either through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or similar, across a sector that we recognise has seen employers faced with significant reductions in their income and cashflow. This is something that the STUC has called for across a number of Scotland’s hardest hit employment sectors. We further welcome the report’s calls for improved digital connectivity and infrastructure investment and improvement, and the reports calls for the industry to work toward carbon reduction and net zero targets. We particularly welcome the identification of the need to improve the skills base of the sector and to bring about much needed improvements in fair work practices.
As union members, who form a significant part of the domestic customer base for the sector, face increasing uncertainty over employment, we are concerned by the report’s lack of any meaningful recommendations to stimulate demand. As household budgets tighten and spending decreases, focusing on VAT cuts rather than stimulating increased spending in the sector through schemes like matched funding programmes that are running in Europe, misses an opportunity to both increase business income, and help families in Scotland to get to the countryside and improve their wellbeing.
Roz Foyer, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said:
‘As a sector, tourism has been notoriously slow in the adoption of fair work principles, and it’s therefore disappointing that the report lacks the ambition to link government support for the sector to fair work conditionality. To leave the implementation and expansion of the fair work agenda solely in the hands of industry as the report suggest, simply ignores the failure of industry to already take these steps.’
‘With industry leaders scrabbling to get as much public money as possible, this report rolls out one proposal after another for tax cuts and grants. It is no use throwing money at owners and hoping that some of it will trickle down to workers and local communities, with no guarantees at all for fair work or sustainable investments.
‘So it is heartening then to see the emergence of the Scottish Tourism Workers League, a group of workers who are supporting each other through the crisis with the support of the STUC’s Better Than Zero campaign. Alongside members of Unite, Prospect, and other unions from across the industry they are fighting for fair conditions and wages, so that millions of mounds of public money does not just end up in the coffers of absentee owners.’
The Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce was established in June and co-chaired by Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing and Business Minister Jamie Hepburn.
The Scottish Tourism Workers League (scottishtourismworkersleague.org) is a network of workers whose livelihoods depend on tourism, and who are supporting each other through the Covid crisis, with the support of the STUC Better Than Zero campaign.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, call Cailean Gallagher on 07384 216733.