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Matchday stadium staff urge hospitality company to act after being left with no money

The Tribune has contacted Delaware North for comment

21 April, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

CASUAL workers on zero-hours contracts at the Emirates Stadium in Holloway say match-day catering and hospitality company Delaware North has declined to add them to the list of furloughed staff, meaning they are not getting paid during the coronavirus crisis.

Although casual staff employed directly by Arsenal are still getting paid, some match-day staff employed by Delaware North, an agency subcontracted by the club, are not.

It’s understood Delaware North initially told all casual staff they would not be furloughed – the process where the government pays 80 percent of salaries while people are unable to work due to the crisis. But after media attention the company changed tack, and told the Tribune it was still trying to verify who met the criteria.

Despite guidance indicating part-time agency, flexible and zero-hours workers are eligible to be furloughed, some staff with years of service behind them have now received emails telling them they will not be paid during the crisis as they do not meet Delaware North’s criteria.

One employee, who spoke to the Tribune on condition of anonymity, said they had worked for Delaware North for more than three years, but had been told by the company they had not worked enough hours to be furloughed.

Another employee, who also asked not to be named and has worked for Delaware North since 2017, told the Tribune staff had been warned not to share the news that they would not be paid without the company’s permission.

“I’ve got children and the bills are piling up,” said one employee.

“Most workers have been left in the dark about what Delaware North plan to do during this time.

“They are telling different people different things. I have spoken to colleagues who have worked less frequently than I have, but who have been told they are getting furloughed.

“But even those employees have not been given any information about receiving the money.

“I have contacted the company so many times and have only been told that as a casual worker, I am not entitled. But government sources say otherwise.

“They have also invented a rule to say I haven’t worked enough hours to be eligible – again, this isn’t stated on the government website.

“Three weeks ago they said they would be exploring who is eligible, but people who are eligible are still not being paid.

“I am shocked that our service over the years is completely disregarded. It’s just awful.

“They have even sent out warnings saying that we are unable to discuss these matters without written permission. So now I cannot even seek advice without breaking their rules.

“We’re not going to give up on this. What they are doing is not fair.”

Another employee said they also worked for catering company Compass Group UK, who had been paying staff since the crisis hit.

“They [Compass] have been very good from the start.

“But Delaware North have been saying that they don’t have the funds and that we don’t fit into the scheme.

“I have contacted them to point out the government advice, which says I do fit into the scheme, and they have told me I don’t fit into the company’s criteria.

“But they will not tell me what that criteria is. I’ve asked and asked, but had no response.

“There are a lot of casual workers who will be relying on this scheme as this is their only job, and they will be hurting and suffering.

“Delaware North is just not saying anything to us.”

The Tribune has contacted Delaware North to comment, but has yet to receive a reply.

A statement released by the company in early April said: “The spread of Covid-19 has forced the closure of nearly every one of Delaware North’s more than 200 operating locations globally, and our entire UK business is currently suspended. The company, along with many others in the hospitality industry, is absorbing large ongoing financial losses.

“Because of the uncertainty over when the crisis will subside, Delaware North’s leaders have made the agonising but unavoidable decision to place nearly all of our salaried and guaranteed hours employees on furlough leave, retaining only a small task force who remain on reduced pay.

“The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been welcomed by Delaware North and industry across the UK. But there has been understandable ambiguity, given the speed at which it was launched, and details were still being clarified on the government’s website over the weekend. The hospitality industry have been seeking clarification on who meets the criteria to be furloughed.

“Delaware North UK has a wide range of casual workers. We are happy to now be able to determine those who we believe are eligible for the scheme – the casual workers who have worked with us a significant number of weeks in the last year or work with us consistently over a number of years – and will be reaching out to them in the coming days.”

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