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Piers Morgan labels treatment of Highland hotel workers as 'contemptible'


By Louise Glen


The letter sent to staff.
The letter sent to staff.

LEADING figures in the worlds of politics and journalism have condemned the owners of a hotel near Aviemore for sacking 30 staff members and making them homeless.

Britannia Hotels has been called "contemptible" by TV presenter Piers Morgan, after workers at the Coylumbridge Hotel were told their services were "no longer required" and given their marching orders from their quarters.

The hotel employs upwards of 50 members of staff but it appears only EU staff were singled out for letters at a time when there are severe restrictions on travel.

Morgan, Daily Mail columnist and morning TV presenter, tweeted to his 7.1 million followers after an interview on air with one of the workers affected.

He wrote: "This is contemptible.

"A large hotel chain firing employees & making them homeless with shockingly callous & inhuman disregard for their wellbeing. Shame on you @BritanniaLtd #coronavirus."

Author, broadcaster and former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, tweeted: "If true, and it looks true, and if it's not put right, I'll obviously never ever use@BritanniaLtd hotels again. What about you?"

Newtonmore-based outdoors broadcaster and author Cameron McNeish tweeted: "A disgraceful way to treat people. The Coylumbridge, once a great hotel, has really gone downhill since Britannia took it over. Nothing but bad reports about it."

A tweet by BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil has had more than 23,000 likes. He said: "I suspect many folks, when they see this, will be adding Britannia Hotels to the list of businesses they will not be frequenting when this crisis is over."

The company's social media channels have since been removed.

Local MP Drew Hendry told the Strathy: "This move, by Britannia Hotels Ltd at the Coylumbridge Hotel has been rightly condemned across business and society and has shocked, not just local communities, but the whole of Scotland, and beyond.

"This is a time when we need to see all people, employers, workers and entire communities pulling together and, judging by the reaction of local people to the news of this action, the offers of help that have poured in to assist the affected individuals, we can be very proud of the way the majority of people are acting.

"It is now the urgent responsibility of Britannia Hotels to act quickly to reverse this action, support the affected staff and show real moral leadership. If they do, I and others will do everything we can to assist them through that process.

"Now is the time for all of us to think first of others, by doing so, we protect ourselves."

Highland Council convener Bill Lobban said: "Throwing hard working foreign staff out on to the street with no notice is an absolute disgrace especially given the situation where they are almost certainly unable to return to their home country.

"Scottish and UK governments have announced substantial funding packages for tourism operators and this company should be taking advantage of the available finance.

"Surely any decent company would do whatever they could to try and ensure these workers were looked after at the very least in the short term.

"I am disgusted that any hotel especially one with a proud previous reputation like Coylumbridge could treat their employees as little more than cattle."

Britannia Hotels first said it was not making a comment but later claimed the letters had been an administrative error.

Related article: Highland hotel sacks 30 EU nationals by letter



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