'Subcontracting by Stealth' in London's Hotels: Impacts and Implications for Labour Organising
AbstractThis paper examines the dynamics of change in employment relations in London's hotels. The industry has traditionally used employment agencies to meet short-term labour shortages, but more recently it has turned to agency workers on a 'permanent' basis to cut costs. Drawing on survey data and in-depth interviews with hotel workers in London, we examine the effects of this on labour, documenting changes in pay, and terms and conditions of employment. Our research confirms a trend towards the casualisation of employment in hotels, and highlights the emergence of 'subcontracting by stealth', whereby increasing numbers of staff are employed by agencies with lower wages and poorer working conditions than in-house staff. Given low union-density in the sector, we argue that the Living Wage Campaign, which has been successfully implemented in other sectors of the London economy, might prove an effective means to counter the negative impacts of subcontracting on hotel workers.
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