Hundreds of seasonal employees on Skye have made complaints about working conditions on the island, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
The tourism boom has seen huge numbers of visitors travel to the Hebridean isle, but seasonal workers – many in the high-profit hotel industry – have voiced concerns over contractual issues, pay entitlement and unfair dismissal.
The bureau’s Skye and Lochalsh branch has revealed that 485 cases were reported to the independent advice service during 2016-17.
A large number were logged by seasonal workers in the area.
Morag Hannah, CAB manager, said: “A lot of cases we see are to do with local employment and issues surrounding no written contract or no written statements outlining terms and conditions of employment.
“A contract or statement should be drawn up within the first two months of employment, as it sets out on both sides what is expected from an employer’s point of view, and what the employee expects of the employer.”
Over the past six months, 17% of cases reported to the Skye and Lochalsh CAB concerned issues about the terms and conditions of employment. 26% of cases related to dismissals, as did a following 26% to pay and entitlement issues.
Mrs Hannah added: “We can negotiate on a client’s behalf to see if we can resolve the issue.
“We do have very good employers in this area, and in particular the tourism trade. What we are finding is that we are seeing the same people coming from a couple of not so good employers in the area.”
The Scottish Trades Union Congress has investigated workers’ concerns on Skye as part of its Better Than Zero campaign.
One anonymous hotel worker said: “It’s so unfair what they’re doing to the current staff, no one knows if they’re going to have a job when they wake up. It’s almost mental torture.
“It’s little box rooms with no window, not even as luxurious as a police holding cell.”
Councillor Ronald MacDonald said: “I believe that, in any industry, workers should be getting at least the living wage. I think we are aware that the service sector has a reputation for not paying the going rate.
“It is particularly sad to hear it is happening here on Skye, particularly during a tourism boom.
“I have considerable concerns about this. It could affect the island’s reputation and our ability to attract people to the area.”