Top names in Scottish hospitality have launched a “Save Our Jobs” campaign calling for urgent support from Westminster and Holyrood to safeguard up to 100,000 jobs before the nationwide furlough scheme comes to an end in just 10 days’ time on October 31.
Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin, Nic Wood of pub and bar collection Signature Group, James Thomson of Prestonfield and The Witchery, Edinburgh’s Carina Contini and the Scotland-wide Crerar Hotels group are leading the campaign to appeal for urgent support from government before it’s too late.
Hospitality workers have shared their “Save Our Jobs” selfies on social media using the hashtags #SaveOurJobs and #ScottishHospitality to highlight the faces behind the jobs under threat.
Support has been drawn from across Scotland with hoteliers, restaurateurs, publicans and café owners joining forces in a drive to raise awareness of the scale of the crisis facing the industry.
Many business owners are worried that they are running out of time to save vital jobs, many of which are held by people aged between 16 and 24 years of age.
People aged between 16 to 24 years old currently make up 50% of the hospitality workforce in Scotland. However, since February, youth unemployment has risen from 6.1% to 14.5% in Scotland.
The “Save Our Jobs” campaign is also keen to raise awareness of the scale of jobs at risk with restrictions not just affecting hospitality venues but the entire supply chain that depends on the industry, such as Scottish food and drink producers, logistical services and maintenance support.
Industry leaders not only believe that more clarity is needed from the Scottish Government on who and when businesses will benefit from the funding made available, but that further financial compensation is required to protect jobs across Scotland.
The hospitality industry is also calling for the government to find practical, evidence-based solutions to remain open whilst keeping their staff and customers safe.
Michelin star restaurateur and owner of Edinburgh’s The Kitchin, Tom Kitchin, said: “We’re in really challenging times as an industry and now is the time to act. The impact this situation is having not just on Scottish hospitality but also on our supply chain is enormous.
“I was speaking to a supplier yesterday and he was in tears. Many producers and even members of our team are in great stress and I have serious concerns for their health and well-being if this carries on.
“Everyone linked to our industry is affected by the restrictions and curfews and hospitality and tourism being such important corner stones of the economy cannot be wiped out.
“Our industry is in a real need of help, especially having only just partly recovered from the first lockdown. We have worked so hard to keep our guests and diners safe in hospitality settings, taking all safety precautions needed to remain safe while enjoying good food and drink.
“Eliminating the risks of the virus is obviously our greatest concern, but there need to be a balance. For the hospitality future of Scotland.”
Carina Contini is Owner of Contini George Street, Edinburgh; Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, Castlehill, Edinburgh; and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant, located at the gardens entrance of the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.
She said: “This virus has created a health and social imbalance. Our elderly have suffered hugely in both loss of their community and their well-being. The youth have suffered socially with their learning and friendships being hit the hardest.
“But the business imbalance affecting hospitality today which is being hit so much harder than many other professions will cause an even greater long term harm.
“Our hospitality teams, made up of all ages, are losing their livelihoods. Our suppliers are being hugely affected. Supermarkets are not picking up the smaller artisans suppliers that feed the independent hospitality market. Our high streets are losing their heart and soul as meeting places for family, friends and businesses.
“Our youth are losing out on the part-time jobs we have always provided for all future carriers from accountants to ballerinas.
“Our family businesses are losing their life-long investments. We are one of the largest contributors to all sectors of our community and economy. We need support to be able to fuel the nation’s recovery. Don’t allow all this good to be lost. It will be a much harder medicine to swallow that any virus.”
James Thomson, owner of Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House and The Witchery, said: “Earlier this year I made the incredibly difficult decision to close The Tower in Edinburgh which I had had the pleasure to operate for 22 years.
“Due to the impact of Covid-19, we had to permanently close our doors which absolutely broke my heart. This resulted in a number of unavoidable redundancies which was a huge blow to all of us and the many suppliers and their staff whom we supported. I’m now very concerned that without adequate support, many hospitality venues will face the same future.
“For years hospitality has faced a shortage of staff and just before the pandemic we were in a very positive position of having some exceptional members of staff . To date we have already lost 52 loyal staff and have another 80 events staff who have been forced to live on furloughed pay since March due to forced closure of events. I now fear losing many more of them and going right back to square one when happier days return.”
Nic Wood, owner of Scotland’s leading pub, bar and restaurant collection, Signature Group, said: “We hope this campaign will drive awareness to the plight of our young workforce as their employment prospects dwindle. We care about every member of our team and to not be able to save every job causes us a huge amount of distress.
“With the appropriate measures, hospitality can be a Covid-secure environment so we want to press that with the right support, the industry can reopen safely, thus protecting jobs.”
To show your support for the “Save Our Jobs” campaign, share your thoughts and photos on social media using the hashtag #SaveOurJobs and #ScottishHospitality.