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Ski staff occupy chalet: British workers refuse to leave French Alpine lodge

By Jonathan Brown

Chalet Georgina just outside the popular French Alpine resort of Les Menuires affords its guests every luxury. There is a spa, jacuzzi and in-house masseur as well as some of the finest skiing money can buy.

Last night, however, a revolt by British chalet staff over claims they had been summarily dismissed has turned the £20,000-a-week timber-framed lodge into the centre of an extraordinary and highly civilised occupation.

Styling themselves as "The Les Menuires Seven", the band of determined Britons are refusing to leave the exclusive bolthole until they are reimbursed £4,000 in what they claim are unpaid wages and travel expenses.

After being told on Monday that they were no longer required by operator Skithe3v, they stocked up on provisions, changed the number code to enter the chalet and advised the local gendarmerie what they were planning.

They then set about publicising their plight on Facebook and in the French media, and have since been inundated with good luck messages and support from other disgruntled saisonnaires who say they too have been treated badly by the ski industry.

Although they stress they have no intention of causing any damage to the property, the next guests – due to arrive on Saturday for a week-long stay – may not see the noble side of the occupation.

Lucy Anne Hayes, 21, who graduated from the University of Manchester in fashion and textile design, said none of the seven intended to move until they were paid. "We feel like the victims of someone who has been very unkind. They think they can get away with employing young people, making them work for a couple of weeks and then firing them," she said.

Previous to her sacking she said she worked 10 days in a row from 7am to midnight. "We won't stay here any longer than we have to," she said. Also among the occupiers are Cambridge graduate Aanya Madhani, 22, gap year students Paddy Bartram, 18, and Angus Briggs, 19, and Rachael Smethurst, 22. They are joined by chalet couple David and Haley Haines, both aged 47, who also claim they were sacked for no reason before being offered lower pay.

The seven also claim young Britons were flown in to cater and clean chalets across the resort during the busy English and French school half-terms, but were then dismissed by the company's resort manager when the families returned home. They say there were similar sackings after the busy Christmas and New Year periods.

No one at Skithe3v was available for comment.

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