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Premier Inn Owner Could Face Legal Action Over 1,500 Proposed Job Cuts

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Hundreds of workers from Whitbread restaurants are threatening to strike over alleged inadequate consultation on 1,500 planned job cuts and closures at Premier Inn.

The Unite union has told the firm it is considering employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal. 

The workers are employed at Whitbread-owned chains like Brewers Fayre, Table Table, and Beefeater. 

The union claims some of the 3,000 workers potentially affected by the closure of more than 200 restaurants have not been told about which locations will close.

This is despite plans being in place since December last year.

Unite is not formally recognised by Whitbread but represents hundreds of potentially affected employees.

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It argues the statutory 45-day consultation period that began in late April has not been conducted in a "genuine or meaningful way." 

The union said Whitbread had not explored alternatives to redundancy.

This is despite a 36 percent rise in underlying profit to £561 million.

Several employees living in job-linked accommodation have been told they will receive eviction notices in July and August.

It coincides with the expected implementation of the bulk of redundancies.

Whitbread operates 850 hotels in the UK.

It announced the job cuts at the end of April as part of a £150 million three-year cost-cutting initiative. 

The company stated it would seek to find alternative employment for those affected.

Unite: “We firmly believe that senior management have known about these redundancies for several months before their workers found out via the media"

The plan involves selling 126 unprofitable restaurants.

It will close 112 more to convert into space for new hotel rooms while retaining 196 larger restaurants adjacent to hotels.

Bryan Simpson, Unite's lead organiser for the hospitality sector, said: "The way in which our members have been treated by Whitbread is morally reprehensible and potentially unlawful. 

“We firmly believe that senior management have known about these redundancies for several months before their workers found out via the media."

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A Whitbread spokesperson said: "We do not accept these allegations. 

“We have a comprehensive and transparent collective consultation process, engaging directly with elected representatives and the individuals potentially affected."

Whitbread added it informed potentially affected employees about their site status on April 30.

It stressed it has provided elected representatives with information on all site closures. 

The company said it’ll find alternative opportunities through new roles.

It will also use its existing recruitment process, which makes approximately 15,000 hires each year.

Unite claims restaurant staff have been offered less generous severance packages than head office employees or regional managers. 

Head office workers are eligible for redundancy payments after one year of service.

This is different to the statutory two years for restaurant staff. 

It said: “As the union for Whitbread workers, we will be doing everything we can legally, industrially and politically to challenge these unnecessary job losses – and win maximum compensation for our members.”

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