In the midst of the necessary self-isolation to avoid unnecessary social contact during the current Covid-19 crisis I suggest we all ensure we have notebooks and pens readily available to note down for future reference the companies and individuals we intend to avoid for their selfish, greedy and irresponsible actions during this difficult period.
It’s important our decisions are fact informed and not rumour fuelled but the length of the list could be substantial. I invite you to send confirmed local examples after reading this column.
Hundreds of images and interviews have profoundly affected me in this last week or so. It has been a proverbial ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ experience. Hospital teams who are working in stressful conditions in long shifts to fight Covid-19 on the frontline. The doctors, nurses and paramedics deserve special attention but so too do the cleaners, porters and administration staff who are essential members of the hospital teams. Their interviews and short video posts are uplifting and very good for everyone’s spirits, some have rightly attracted several million views.
The spirit of NHS staff is absolutely astonishing ❤️
Please RT if you’re proud.
WE WILL BEAT THIS!
— NHS Million (@NHSMillion) March 20, 2020
The images of exhausted nurses and other hospital staff reduced to tears after long and arduous shifts but unable to purchase essential foods and household items due to stupid and selfish hoarders and panic buyers is in contrast to the above example and constitutes the ‘bad’ and should surely compel people to stop acting so selfishly and stupidly.
However, among the most upsetting interviews I consumed yesterday were the shocked responses of Spanish national Alvaro Garcia and Latvian citizen Normunds Varslavans, just two of the twelve members of staff who had been summarily sacked from their hotel jobs in the Coylumbridge hotel in the beautiful area of Aviemore in Scotland. The beauty of the surroundings contrasted acutely with the ugliness of their treatment by a multi-million-pound hotel chain with over sixty outlets across the UK. Alvaro had worked at the hotel with tied accommodation for two years. When Normunds had just finished his shift they both received the cold and heartless letter that informed them not only were they immediately sacked from employment they were immediately evicted and made homeless as well. An absolutely disgraceful and inhumane action by their very profitable employer.
Britannia Hotels Group Named and Shamed
The letter heading was cruelly concise: ‘Services no longer required’. It was dated 19th March and delivered on 19th March and it read:
“Taking the latest government advice, this letter is to confirm that with immediate effect from 19th March 2020 your employment has been terminated as your services are no longer required…
You are asked to vacate the Hotel accommodations immediately…”
Just like that, cast aside like a piece of garbage, these employees of a hotel group which posted fantastic profits and soring revenues only eight weeks earlier were summarily sacked and evicted from their places of residence with callous disregard. Britannia Hotels despicable actions in sacking and evicting their employees in Aviemore last Thursday night should be universally condemned by all and sundry. It’s hardly an onerous task given the fact the group concerned, Britannia Hotels, was last October rated the worst hotel group in relation to cleanliness, service and price for a remarkable seventh consecutive year by a detailed survey conducted by respected consumer group magazine Which.
Britannia Hotel Group Has Form in Heartless Behaviour Stakes
In December 2018 with less than a week’s notice this same hotel group cancelled a booking in their Britannia Royal hotel in Hull from a homeless charity which had raised the money to pay for twenty-eight homeless people to spend two nights, 24th and 25th December, with bed, breakfast and Christmas dinner. They offered absolutely no explanation for the cancellation and left the charity scrambling for last minute alternatives.
Fortunately, another hotel group stepped up to the plate in Hull and thousands of pounds were raised to ensure the homeless people in Hull did not miss out on the temporary reprieve from sleeping on the streets. Ugly and selfish actions often inspire the polar opposites of beautiful and kind actions. So too with the Aviemore staff evicted last Thursday night who were offered immediate accommodation by a more socially conscientious hotel group. Offers of alternative employment have also flooded in for the sacked staff after the intervention of the local MSP.
Multi-Millionaire Owner without a Moral Compass
One of the two chief directors of Britannia Hotels is Alexander Langsam. He was crowned the ‘Asylum king’ in 2014 after he secured a lucrative Home Office contract worth £14 million to accommodate asylum seekers and his personal wealth in 2016 was reported to be in excess of £220 million. His Britannia Hotels group boasted a 19% increase on revenues for the 2018-19 financial year with a gross profit of £75 million and an operating profit of £19.3 million. Within eight weeks of reporting these soaring profits Britannia hotels were summarily dismissing staff and evicting them from their premises without notice.
An Error My Arse
Today we read the cock and bull story that the sacking and eviction letters were due to an “administrative error” on the part of Britannia hotels but we all know that is code for ‘holy shit we didn’t expect this letter to be highlighted on social and mainstream media’:
“Unfortunately, the communication sent to these employees was an administrative error. All affected employees are being immediately contacted. We apologise for any upset caused”.
The deceitful nature of the ‘administrative error’ pish was underlined by the fact the Britannia Hotels spokeswoman could not say if the staff would be returned to their former positions, or if sackings would take place at other Britannia properties. So it was an ‘error’ but only in so far as it was publicised. The sackings and evictions themselves were no error and stand despite the multi-billion pound aid package for businesses like Britannia.
I recognise that some 12,000 people are employed in some form or another by Britannia Hotels group but the truth is this company does not deserve to continue under current ownership. They are a thoroughly discredited hotel chain who clearly treats their staff deplorably. They are up near the top of my discredited coronavirus list alongside billionaire Branson and his obscene greed and hypocrisy seeking state handouts while expecting staff to take unpaid leave for months while he earns millions in interest on his near £4 billion personal fortune.
£20 Bottle of Calpol Scandal – Jhoots Called Out
On a smaller scale but just as enraging are the unacceptable antics of the Birmingham pharmacy seeking to cash in on unfounded worries of supplies shortages by charging £20 for bottles of Calpol, often essential to aid infants with colds and persistent coughs. Jhoots pharmacy is well and truly named and shamed for trying to profiteer during a crisis by charging more than three times the normal price for an infant medicine.
Come on guys, let’s pull together and look out for our elderly families and neighbours during this extremely worrying period but let’s also name and shame the companies and individuals who act deplorably and/or seek to profit from everyone else’s worry and concern.