The OGBL trade union has called for the launch of negotiations between all stakeholders in the hospitality sector for a job retention plan in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At its meeting on Monday, the Executive Committee of the OGBL carried out a new analysis of the situation in the various sectors of activity in Luxembourg. Eight months after the outbreak of the COVID-19 health crisis in the Grand Duchy, the union observed that many sectors of activity continue to suffer from its economic and social repercussions.

The OGBL expressed particular concern over the situation in the hospitality sector, which has been one of the sectors most affected by the crisis, not least because of the two lockdown-related closures (between 15 March and 29 May 2020 and now again since 26 November 2020) imposed upon it in order to combat the spread of the virus. The union also recalled that establishments in this sector recorded a significant drop in activity between these two closures, resulting both from physical distancing measures and a decline in attendance following a drop in customer confidence. The costs incurred to better adapt the establishments to the new restrictions had a similar impact on the sector.

In this context, the OGBL has confirmed that it fully supports the decision taken by the government to provide financial assistance to companies in the hospitality sector. The union called on the government to ensure that the amount of aid released is significantly large and paid to companies as quickly as possible to avoid the collapse of this sector, which employs tens of thousands of people in Luxembourg.

That being said, the OGBL expressed regret that this public aid is not yet conditional on a guarantee of continued employment. The union thus requested that companies that benefit from this aid not be authorised to lay off workers for economic reasons, either now or in the months to come.

As such, the OGBL has proposed bringing together all the stakeholders in a roundtable discussion and confirmed that it is ready to start negotiations for a job retention plan in the sector. Last December, the food and hotel trade union of the OGBL met a first time with the representatives of the employers' federation of the sector, HORESCA, and presented them with its ideas aimed at ensuring the best possible sustainability of activities and jobs in the area. The Executive Committee of the OGBL is now requesting a second meeting with both the representatives of HORESCA and the competent ministers in order to jointly analyse a way out of the crisis, in the interest of companies and employees in the sector.

Given the risk of bankruptcy to which many companies (even beyond the hospitality sector) are exposed, the OGBL also recalled the need to review bankruptcy legislation in order to speed up and professionalise procedures as well as strengthening the rights of the employees concerned. The union will request meetings with the competent ministers in this area to discuss together how to quickly achieve a strengthening of the legal system.