Twenty jobs to go at Covid-19 Nike conference hotel

A hotel labelled Scotland’s Covid-19 “ground zero” set to axe 20 of its workforce
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Bosses at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton have confirmed 20 jobs are to go, with the final number still unconfirmed.

The hotel was the venue for a Nike conference in February which has been linked to a coronavirus outbreak and claims the Scottish Government failed to inform the public about the threat.

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Almost 100 hotel job cuts were announced overall in the Capital yesterday as Covid-19 continues to batter the tourism industry.

Twenty jobs have been axed at Hilton Carlton Hotel Edinburgh, which hosted the Nike conference in February linked to a major Covid-19 outbreakTwenty jobs have been axed at Hilton Carlton Hotel Edinburgh, which hosted the Nike conference in February linked to a major Covid-19 outbreak
Twenty jobs have been axed at Hilton Carlton Hotel Edinburgh, which hosted the Nike conference in February linked to a major Covid-19 outbreak

One in five jobs are set to be lost at the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria, with the additional 20 to go at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton.

As the Carlton has just begun a consultation process, officials said more jobs may be impacted and the final number is not yet known.

The Waldorf Astoria – also known as the Caley – will review 200 of its 290 jobs, with 65 set to be cut and a further 135 due to be restructured, with changed or reduced hours.

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The Hilton-owned hotel has 290 staff including some casual workers.

A consultation started this week will continue until September, after owners said they had been left with “no choice” but to cut back as travel restrictions and social distancing measures continue to impact profits.

Industry experts have warned that the wave of Covid-related redundancies in the hospitality sector has only just begun, and that more will likely be on the horizon as the government furlough scheme comes to an end in October.

Russell Imrie, spokesperson for the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said the city should expect to see more job losses.

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“Clearly everyone is aware of the crisis situation that hotels in Edinburgh are in,” he said.

“Hotels are faced with the situation of having many more employees than the level of business merits and so they are having to right-size their businesses, and unfortunately that does result in both redundancies and reduced levels of hours for those employees who are left employed.

“We’re in a situation where many employees’ jobs have been protected as a result of the very valuable job retention scheme. However as the job retention scheme comes to an end over the next few months, businesses and hotels will not be able to retain the employees because there is no financial support for them to be able to do so.”

He added: “There will be more redundancies. Some hotels moved quickly and made redundancies as soon as the crisis hit, and some hotels decided to maintain as many staff as possible on the job retention scheme. But it’s now becoming clear that the business levels in hotels are not going to return to anything like normal any time soon, and so they’re having to take the unfortunate decision of making redundancies before the job retention scheme comes to an end.

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“It’s tragic for the employees and their families, and hotels are in the unenviable position of having to make redundancies in order to save their business for the reduced number of employees which are left. It’s a dreadful situation to be in.”

It comes after Paul Waterson, spokesperson for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, warned in June that the hospitality sector may see up to 100,000 redundancies, some 40 per cent of the work force. He predicted that the industry may not see any form of return to normal until 2022.

The Hilton Edinburgh Carlton is owned by Hilton but managed by Amaris Hospitality as a franchise. The hotel said that management had entered into consultation with 20 employees about redundancies.

They added that as the consultation period has just begun, the final number is not yet known.

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A spokesperson said: “The Edinburgh Carlton Hotel will be entering into consultation with a limited number of employees from different operating areas within the hotel relating to proposed redundancies.

“These regrettable steps are being taken in direct response to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the business in recent months, and to ensure the cost base of the hotel is sustainable and consistent with the significantly reduced levels of business forecasted in the future.

“Our commitment and priority is to provide the best possible support to colleagues impacted by these regrettable measures.”

A spokesperson for Hilton said in a statement about the restructuring at the Waldorf Astoria: “Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges for our industry and with social distancing measures and travel restrictions remaining in place, it is unlikely we will get back to normal operations for some time.

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“As a result, we are having to make some very difficult decisions about our future structure.

“We have worked hard to minimise the impact on jobs so far, but we have been left with no choice but to resize and restructure the team at The Caledonian.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be discussing future plans with our team members so that we can hear their views and minimise the impact on jobs as much as possible.”

The iconic hotel reopened its doors on July 15 after being forced to close for the first time since its opening in 1903.

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New measures were introduced, including contactless check in and out, and guests being able to unlock their doors using the Hilton Honors mobile app.

In June it was revealed that Macdonald Hotels Group had begun a company-wide consultation process, warning that up to 1800 roles, 80 per cent of its workforce, could be at risk of redundancy.

The group has 31 hotels and resorts in Scotland and England, and employs 2299 people.

The company, which is based in Bathgate, said it was losing £2 million a month while its hotels and resorts were closed.

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It operates two hotels in Edinburgh, the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel and Spa and the Macdonald Houstoun Hotel.

Deputy chairman Gordon Fraser said: “We had really hoped to avoid this very unwelcome step, but with no realistic prospects of a return to anything like normal trading for the foreseeable future, we were simply left with no choice. Potentially, we are looking at around 1,800 roles at risk, in all areas and at all levels of the business.

“The Government’s furlough scheme has helped to a degree but our essential operating costs, insurance and some wages are still having to be paid, meaning our monthly cash outgoings are still running at £2m while we are forced to remain closed.”

This article previously incorrectly suggested a 100 jobs were at risk at the Hilton Carlton Edinburgh. In fact, the hotel has confirmed it is in consultation with just 20 employees about potential redundancies. We apologise for the error