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'We're delighted to be back at the Coylumbridge Hotel'


By Gavin Musgrove


One of the waiters at the centre of a coronavirus sacking storm at the Coylumbridge Hotel has told the Strathy how delighted he is to be back in his old job.

There was a huge backlash against owners Britannia Hotels when it emerged on Thursday evening they had laid off EU staff and effectively made them homeless.

“They say it was an administrative error but either way myself and my colleagues are very happy still to be here,” said Alvaro Garcia yesterday.

“We couldn’t have got back to our homes in Europe anyway.”

The posted redundancy letter which was issued by Britannia Hotels and created a huge national backlash.
The posted redundancy letter which was issued by Britannia Hotels and created a huge national backlash.

The Madrid native posted the blunt correspondence from his employers on social media triggering the row, which made national headlines.

The affected staff – mainly waiters and from Europe – were notified by the cut-price hotel chain in correspondence headed “Services no longer required”.

They were told to vacate their hotel accommodations by the next day.

There was swift condemnation from TV presenters including Piers Morgan and Andrew Neil, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leading politicians, as well as tourist authorities and business leaders.

Britannia Hotels was slammed for acting in such a callous manner at a time when Prime Minister Boris Johnson had told employers to stand by their workforce in the fight against coronavirus.

Initially, the hotel issued no comments and then claimed that an ‘administrative error’ was to blame. By that time individuals and businesses from across the strath had come to the aid of the stricken workers with offers of accommodation and food.

However, it has since emerged that the hotel has reinstated the workers.

Barrie Mathieson, the hotel’s food and beverage manager, posted on Monday: “I am putting my head above the parapet again to say that everyone who got that damned letter at Coylumbridge Hotel has their job reinstated today.

“Some of us have been working hard over the weekend to make sure this happens and again this is nothing to do with anyone at all working at this hotel.

“I have had to keep the death threat screenshots and recorded messages for obvious reasons but as I said we are better than this.”

The Strathy tried to contacted Britannia Hotels and the Coylumbridge Hotel but received no response.

One local woman had told the Strathy she was ‘very surprised’ by the redundancy announcement as she had been offered a job at the hotel just the previous week.

Highland MSP Rhoda Grant had written to Alex Langsam, Britannia Hotels boss, telling him his handling of the situation was ‘unacceptable’.

Rhoda Grant welcomed U-turn but has said hotel's actions were unacceptable.
Rhoda Grant welcomed U-turn but has said hotel's actions were unacceptable.

She said on the U-turn: “I have to say, it smacks of damage limitation for your company rather than compassion for your staff and it raises more questions than answers.”



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