Galway hospitality staff reveal reality of abuse in the workplace

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh with Kaela MacCormaic and Eva Mitchell, taking their protest over conditions for hospitality workers to the Dail.

A survey of hospitality workers in Galway has found that more than three-quarters were subjected to verbal abuse while a third experienced sexual harassment or sexual abuse.

The first major survey of the local industry involving 415 respondents has uncovered widespread abuse of statutory working rights. It was launched at a public meeting attended by 100 workers last Monday night.

Almost half of the workers did not receive their entitlement to nine public holidays per year while over 40% did not receive four weeks paid annual leave.

Almost half did not receive eleven consecutive hours of rest between shifts; almost 60% did not receive the statutory 15-minute break after four and a half hours worked while half did not get a 30min break after six hours worked.

Other basic entitlements were also ignored by employers. The survey found that 45% of respondents were not given a written statement of the terms of their employment within the first two months while 18% did not receive a regular pay slip.

The environment in Galway’s restaurants, hotels and cafes appeared to be overwhelmingly hostile. Some 44% of respondents reported the employer using the rota as a negative ‘control mechanism’; a third said their tips were regularly withheld; 28% stated they were being underpaid regularly.

Only 21 of the 415 respondents were members of a trade union.

For the vast majority of transgressions, the perpetrator was someone in a position of authority over the worker; either a supervisor, manager, or owner.

The vast majority – 60% – of workers chose not to report incidents, citing a belief that it would make no difference, a fear of repercussions or lack of evidence.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, who helped organise the survey after being contacted by unhappy hospitality workers, said the responses are quite shocking.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.