Dozens of catering staff at CairnGorm Mountain have been told there is no work for them whilst the funicular railway is out of action, leaving many with the possibility of facing a winter season without wages.
Up to 30 staff, many of whom are on zero hours contracts, were informed yesterday, in the latest instalment of the ongoing crisis at Cairngorm Mountain.
The centre’s funicular railway was closed indefinitely this week following fresh safety concerns related to the rails’ supporting structures.
Ewan Kearney, chief operating officer of CairnGorm Mountain, said: “We have written to all staff informing them of our position, and how it impacts them, and held several staff and departmental meetings on site to keep the team fully briefed.
“We deeply regret our employees being in this position, particularly having already overcome a very difficult winter in 2016. We are very proud of our workforce, who we have worked hard to recruit, train and deploy at the Mountain.
“We have an experienced management team who will do everything they can to get them back to work in the near future or re-deploy them to other areas of our wider business.”
Visitors to the centre are unable to reach the Ptarmigan Restaurant at the mountain’s peak due to the funicular’s closure.
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The findings of the inspection are expected to be revealed in early November where skiers and staff hope to find out when skiing can begin at the centre this winter.
Councillor Bill Lobban said: “It is going to be a very difficult time for families from all areas of Badenoch and Strathspey as the mountain is so important to the whole economy.
“We all sympathise and can only hope the mountain is back up and running as fast as possible.
“We have to look at the positives. We have to look at the fact there will be skiing in Cairngorm over winter and with that there will be jobs available.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working alongside the tenant, Cairngorm Mountain as inspections are conducted by specialist engineers.
Susan Smith of HIE, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that staff of Cairngorm Mountain are being affected in this way.
“It is clearly a very challenging time for CairnGorm Mountain Ltd, and we are working hard with the company to address the current situation. Safety must, of course, be our top priority and it is essential that the concerns reported by engineers are investigated both quickly and thoroughly.”
Liz Gordon of the GMB union said: “This typifies why the GMB is against zero hours contracts.
“Cairngorm shareholders will be secure in the knowledge that their debts will be paid, these staff are not so lucky; no security, no income and an unsure future.”