Coronavirus: G1 Group halts lay-offs after wages pledge

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Corinthian Club GlasgowImage source, Thomas Nugent
Image caption,
BBC News understands staff at The Corinthian Club have been laid off

Leisure chain G1 Group says it has halted plans to lay off a "significant number of workers".

Earlier the Unite union accused the group of sacking workers "en masse" after being hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

The firm which operates bars, restaurants and clubs across Scotland says it has now "stopped all proposed action in its tracks".

It came after the chancellor pledged to pay the wages of those unable to work.

Rishi Sunak vowed there will be "no limit" to the funding needed to pull the UK economy and its workers through the current crisis.

Among the measures announced are a VAT holiday worth around £30 billion and a fund for workers to receive 80% of their pay.

He made the announcement shortly after Boris Johnson told restaurants and bars to shut in a bid to prevent spreading the virus.

Shortly afterwards G1 Group published a statement saying it had given notice to a "significant number" of workers and had implemented short-term lay-offs "in the hope that we could return them to work at the earliest opportunity".

It continued: "That said - we quite deliberately chose to refrain from completing our formal process in the hope that the government would announce additional support.

"We, like employers and employees alike, received the news of the job retention scheme with relief and happiness and have today stopped all proposed action in its tracks as a result."

The company will now review details of the announcement "as soon as they become available".

'Worrying times'

BBC Scotland understands workers have from The Grosvenor Café, The Gardener, Polo Lounge, Delmonicas, The Bothy and The Corinthian Club in Glasgow were among those affected by the lay-offs.

Other workers were put on temporary unpaid leave.

One former waiter employed by G1 Group told BBC Scotland he received a "one minute phone call" from his general manager on Thursday.

"I'm honestly scared, shocked," he said. "Looking for a job in these worrying times is already proven difficult. I can't afford not to work.

"Myself and others put so much love and hard work into [venues]. And this is how they treat us? It's honestly heartbreaking."

Some staff have contacted the Better Than Zero campaign, which has previously lobbied G1 to improve working conditions and pay.

Bryan Simpson of Unite Hospitality said they had learned G1 had closed most of their venues in Glasgow and sacked staff "en masse by message and without notice".

"We may be in the middle of a public health crisis but this does not give the country's largest hospitality employer carte blanche to run rough-shod over their loyal workforce," he said.

"Unite hospitality will be doing everything in our power to get justice for these workers who are now not going to be able to pay rent or bills during an acute crisis."