Staff at a Renfrewshire hotel have been left dependent on food banks after a promise to add them to the furlough scheme was dubbed an “administrative error” by their employer.
Seventy-three workers at the Glasgow River Hotel - the former Erskine Bridge Hotel - were told on March 23 that they would be added the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme.
It offered those unable to work 80 per cent of their wages while the hotel remained closed under lockdown.
But they never received a penny.
The hotel’s manager Neil Irwin was told the failure to pay was due to HMRC making a mistake when the MGM Muthu Hotels took ownership of the venue in January.
More than 60 shocked staff - who have raised a formal grievance with their employer - have since been told the promise of furlough was simply a case of the company “using the wrong phrasing”.
Bosses said yesterday that while they hoped to add people to the furlough scheme, their letter to staff in March should have stated staff were being placed on “unpaid short time working”.
“The idea that the furlough scheme was admin error is laughable,” Neil said.
“We had a meeting on May 11 when they said they were fighting it with HMRC. And they have not said anything else since.
“There has been a complete abdication of their responsibilities towards staff.
“That is five months people have been left with no income.”
Neil, together with other employees, has been forced to apply for Universal Credit but it is a fraction of their previous income.
They have also been forced to request repayment holidays from lenders and in some instances turn to food banks to feed their families.
Neil added: “I’m trying to live off UC but it’s a struggle. My savings have been completely blown and that’s me without a family to support.
“I feel a responsibilty towards them, I have been very conscious to tell them how to apply for food bank vouchers.”
Neil has submitted a formal grievance with MGM Mutha Hotels on behalf of 63 employees, arguing the company’s failure to implement the furlough scheme or start a consultation on redundancies means staff are entitled to the wages set out in their contracts.
But the company, which only notified employees yesterday that they should have been placed on “unpaid short time working”, says they are not entitled to a penny.
Neil has contacted employment rights service ACAS which can arbitrate between employers and staff, but fears the process may lead to a tribunal.
He added: “We are very disappointed with how this matter has been handled.
“There has been a lack of communication, and from the information which has now come to light it seems that there were failures prior to lock-down to register employees correctly with HMRC. To simply leave the workforce in limbo and on an extended period of unpaid leave is not acceptable.”
The Express has contacted MGM Muthu Hotels but were unable to get a response at the time of going to press.