Whitbread denies allegations it's failed to conduct redundancy consultations in ‘genuine or meaningful way’

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Credit: WikiCommons (JThomas)
Credit: WikiCommons (JThomas)

Related tags Unite union Casual dining Multi-site Staff Redundancy Whitbread Brewers fayre Premier inn Beefeater Bar + Block

Whitbread has pushed back against allegations that it has failed to consult with staff facing redundancy in a ‘genuine or meaningful way’.

The group said it didn’t accept the allegations made by the Unite union and insisted it has a ‘comprehensive and transparent collective consultation process’ and is ‘engaging directly with elected representatives and the individuals potentially impacted’.

It comes after Unite revealed to The Guardian ​that it is considering launching employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal against Whitbread​, whose portfolio includes the Bar + Block, Brewers Fayre and Beefeater casual dining brands, as well as the Premier Inn chain.

Whitbread announced in April that some 1,500 roles across its UK workforce would be shed​ under plans to exit 126 sites from its branded restaurant estate and convert a further 112 into new hotel rooms.

As well as accusations of poor consultation procedures, Unite, which is not formally recognised by Whitbread but claims to represent hundreds of employees affected by the job losses, also said there is no evidence the group has considered alternatives to redundancy.

Bryan Simpson, lead organiser for the hospitality sector at Unite, said questions from the union and from elected representatives for those staff potentially affected by redundancy have not been answered.

“The way in which our members have been treated by Whitbread is morally reprehensible and potentially unlawful,” he told The Guardian​.

“We firmly believe that senior management have known about these redundancies for several months before their workers found out via the media and many don’t even know.

“Despite refusing to answer questions from their workers and their union, the company now wishes to bulldoze through a consultation process which has been neither genuine nor meaningful, with the first terminations happening on 4 July.”

In a statement provided to Restaurant​, a spokesperson for Whitbread said: “We do not accept these allegations. We have a comprehensive and transparent collective consultation process, and are engaging directly with elected representatives and the individuals potentially impacted.

“The consultation process is still ongoing and as part of this we are seeking to find alternative opportunities wherever possible through the roles created by this programme and our existing recruitment process that makes c.15,000 hires each year.

“We expect to retain a significant proportion of those who wish to remain with us and are providing dedicated support to our teams.”

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