Scottish Government must fight for jobs in hospitality sector says Rhoda Grant
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Caithness, Sutherland and Ross could face a hospitality unemployment crisis if SNP ministers do not step up the fight for jobs as restaurants re-open.
Scottish Labour has warned that if the furlough scheme ends before a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme is in place, thousands of workers in restaurants, bars and cafes could be laid off.
And the furlough scheme must be extended in the hospitality sector too.
Scottish Labour has calculated that the hospitality sector directly employs 3460 people across Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.
Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “Across Caithness, Sutherland and Ross many people will be enjoying their first meal out since March, and many chefs, waiting staff and kitchen staff will be back at work for the first time since then.
“But necessary social distancing measures mean businesses are unable to trade at normal levels. The effects of this are already being seen, with some workers having been laid off in spite of government support.
“The UK Government has responded to pressure and offered restaurants support – but only in the short-term. Otherwise a hospitality unemployment crisis could cause serious damage – not just for the workers laid off, but for everyone in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.
"With 3460 workers employed in the sector, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross’ economy depends on hospitality jobs, and the Highland hospitality sector needs jobs for good. Extending the furlough scheme in this sector could provide a lifeline to thousands of workers.
“The Scottish Government must step up the fight to save these jobs. Businesses need greater support to make the adaptations they need to accommodate greater social distancing, allowing them to keep more staff on their books. A quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme could stimulate demand as well, so that when the furlough scheme ends in other sectors workers can still afford to visit restaurants and bars.”