all Millenium Hotels news (Copthorne, Kingsgate, Metropolis)

Earthquake information: Millenium Hotels

Unite has asked all employers of our members in Christchurch to inform us about their plans for workers in the aftermath of the Christchurch Earthquake.

The response to our questions from Millenium Hotels on Friday 25th February is copied below in italics


To all Employers of Unite Union members in Christchurch:

The tragedy in Christchurch is foremost in all our minds and our sympathies are with those who have suffered through the death and destruction wrought by the latest earthquake.

The rise of Unite Union

TV3's current affairs program The Nation recently did a profile on Unite, looking at the new approach Unite has brought to unions fighting for a better deal for low paid workers.

Service with a smell - story from Herald on Sunday

Staff in some of Auckland's finest hotels are refusing to clean up after guests who leave rooms severely soiled. About 30 room attendants at three Millennium hotels have placed a ban on cleaning up "bodily fluids" left by guests, claiming they should be paid extra for the unpleasant task.

Their union, Unite, is backing the claim for what's known as "dirt money", saying such payments are an accepted practice in the industry.

Unite organiser Daphna Whitmore said the hotels - the Copthorne in Anzac Ave, the Copthorne Harbour City and the Kingsgate in Parnell - refused to pay workers extra for cleaning badly soiled rooms.

Drunk guests had defecated in beds and urinated in the corners of bedrooms, and one worker reported a used condom stuck to a wall.

Union pressure sees upgrade at Copthorne hotel

Union pressure sees upgrade at Copthorne hotel

Since raising the matter of unfit facilities at the Copthorne Hotel in Auckland with the HR manager, Daphna Whitmore, Unites hotels organiser has achieved some results.

The hotel has agreed to refurbish the toilets and changing rooms.

According the the HR manager Jean Garlick, "the maintenance team started work in the females changing room at 8am (Monday) morning and are hoping to have both changing rooms finished by the end of the week".

"They are removing and replacing any rotted boards / panels, removing mould, installing a new extractor fan (to help reduce the moisture build up) and painting all the surfaces," she said.

They have also replaced the toilet seat.

Millennium agreement a victory for union members

Unite members ratified a new agreement with Millennium Hotels last week that improves working conditions for all hotel workers as well as providing additional bonuses to union members only.

The National Agreement, that covers all hotels owned by Millennium in New Zealand, sees:

  • A 4 per cent pay rise for all hotel workers

  • One year term

  • Warm tops - to be supplied immediately

The company has also agreed to prioritise providing long pants for the female staff who currently wear culottes. This is an issue for many of the housekeepers who often get chemicals on their legs.

Unite members will receive:

  • 70 cents shoe allowance per shift worked

  • $5 a week first aid certificate allowance

Industry agreement to lift wages in hotels needed

"It's time the hotel industry lifted wages across the board," says Unite hotel organiser Daphna Whitmore.

Speaking at the annual hotel industry conference in May, she proposed that the large hotel chains agree to raise the wages above the minimum.

"If the major hotels signed up to a code to lift the rates it would prevent the sort of competition among hotels that has driven down wages," she said.

She was speaking as part of a panel on the problem of recruiting and retaining staff in the hospitality industry.

The panel included Peter Gee, general manager of Stamford Plaza hotel; Paul Richardson, vice president of Accor hotel and Andrew Shaw an employment lawyer from Lane Neave.

The big speed-up - Housekeeping work overloads

Since 2006 in the United States the union UNITE-HERE has been campaigning for hotel workers' rights. The problems highlighted in the piece below will be familiar to housekeeping staff in New Zealand.

  • Hotel housekeepers are facing increasing injuries due to heavy workloads. In most hotels, housekeepers must clean 15 or more rooms per day.

  • Hotel housekeepers must rush to meet a daily quota of cleaned rooms. They frequently skip rest periods and meals in order to finish, and even work off the clock to meet their quotas.

  • In recent years, corporate hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton have increased both the pace and the amount of work performed by housekeepers.

Agreement of the Millenium

A new collective agreement was ratified by members in Copthorne, Kingsgate and Millennium hotels last month.
The company gave an across-the-board pay increase of 2.5% and raised the sick leave to 7 days a year (a union claim in 2006) after the first year of employment.
Union improvements to conditions include:
•This is a nationwide collective agreement. It applies to Unite members working in hotels owned and operated by Millennium.
•Security of Hours – existing staff are to be offered extra work before taking on new staff.     
•Shift Length – the minimum shift length is to be four hours unless a person wants fewer hours.
•Paid Breaks – to be 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

AMH Agreement brings improvements for members

Key points are:

  • Basic pay:
    1. 50 cent an hour increase on all rates listed in the pay grid from 1 April 2007
    2. 3% pay rise for paid and printed rates from 1 April 2008
  • Back pay:
    Union members will be back-paid the increase to 1 April 2007.
  • Shift Allowance:
    Staff who work from midnight to 7am will receive a 15% loading on their rate of pay.

Other agreed changes in terms or conditions of employment are as follows:

  • Progression through pay scale:

Workers are not disposable objects

Workers are not disposable objects

by Daphna Whitmore

It is common for hotels to contract out part of their business in a bid to drive down costs and maximise profits. It’s causing misery for workers.
“Don’t come to work tomorrow. If you do I’ll call the cops”. That was how Beth Downs, a waitress at Atlantis restaurant in the Ascott Metropolis hotel, learned that she and four work mates no longer had jobs.
In January they had been told the hotel was looking for a new restaurant contractor. Atlantis restaurant’s contract would end on March 3. If a new contractor couldn’t be found Ascott would run the restaurant directly. Either way, the staff would be kept on, they were assured.

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