Hundreds of jobs at Northern Ireland hotel giant Hastings are at risk of redundancy, a trade union has claimed.
And Unite the union has said it’s written a letter challenging the legality of what it claims are moves by the group to make large numbers of its staff redundant.
Unite said it’s challenging redundancy notices for staff at four of the company’s seven hotels - The Europa, Stormont and Grand Central hotels in Belfast, and the Ballygally Hotel in Larne.
The company employs a total of 1,244 staff across its seven hotels. The group also includes the Culloden, Everglades and Slieve Donard.
Unite says its questioning the legal basis for the redundancies as the government’s job retention scheme is available to employers until October.
However, companies are required to contributed to workers’ wages under the scheme from next month.
Most hotels have been closed since lockdown began on March 23 but are due to reopen from July 4.
Unite claimed staff were issued with redundancy notices within minutes of a public announcement by Economy Minister about the reopening of hotels, at the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast.
Neil Moore, Unite organiser for the hospitality sector said: “Union members at Hastings have reported to Unite that they feel there is a lack of meaningful engagement regarding potential redundancies and not enough is being done to avoid job losses. Workers cannot understand why jobs are under threat now given the ongoing available subvention from HMRC until October.
“The union has warned that the industry risks a mass exodus of skills from the sector which will make the recovery more difficult.”
A spokesperson on behalf of the Hastings Hotel Group said: "Even with the positive news that the sector will begin to re-open on the 3rd July, we expect demand for hotels to be subdued for an extended period of time, particularly over the summer months which is traditionally the peak trading season.
"The collapse of the international visitor market, as well as business travel, has meant that we are forecasting our revenues to be significantly down over the next 12 months.
"Regretfully, to safeguard the business and to protect a significant percentage of the jobs in the Hastings Hotel Group, we have no alternative but to take the difficult decision to consult with our staff.
"We will continue to work closely with our employees to examine any viable alternatives to mitigate the impact."