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20.01.2022 klo 13.30

Restaurant Manager about corona lay-offs: “The most stressful part has been not knowing”

Matthew Whitfield has worked 20 years in the restaurant industry. He's worried about all the restaurants that will have to close. Picture: Adam MacKintosh

Restaurant manager Matthew Whitfield has been laid off two times during the pandemic, for a combined fourteen and a half weeks. Like many others, he has had to use up his savings to manage financially.

“During the first lay off I used my savings to pay a few months’ rent up-front and all my holiday pay to survive.”

“PAM was really helpful when I was laid off. So, I have really encouraged all staff to join, so they are protected.”

“The most stressful thing is not knowing"

Whitfield counts himself very lucky, because he is still needed, as there’s lots to do even though the restaurant is quiet.

“At the moment I’m working, but with the restricted opening hours, it’s only 25 hours a week instead of full time. I don’t know for how long the owner will be able to pay me though.”

In December the restaurant has had to lay off most staff and can only give the rest a few short shifts a week, as business is down by two thirds from normal.

For Whitfield the stressful thing during the pandemic has been not knowing: all the last-minute changes and trying to figure out from English language news what’s going on.

“I don’t dwell on things. You just have to keep working through, try to accept what is. But not knowing has been the most stressful. And there’s been more work with all the new procedures and trying to keep everyone safe, but with a smaller staff.”

“I’ve done this my whole life”

Whitfield has been working in the restaurant industry for 20 years, nine of them in Finland.

“I’ve done this my whole life. And we’ve put so much work into the restaurant, that have to keep fighting for it. But these days, I wouldn’t encourage people to make a career in the restaurant industry”.

Like many in the industry, Whitfield is worried about the number of restaurants that will have to close.

“A lot of employees are looking for work in other fields. They are trying to get out of the industry because they just can’t survive on the hours they get at the restaurant. The situation is problematic, because they are needed when the restaurant opens, but you can’t keep them hanging when you don’t know when that will be.”

PAM demands full compensation to workers

Government restrictions have hit restaurant workers hard.

Four out of every five PAM members in the hospitality sector have been laid off during the corona pandemic. Most report financial difficulties and for one in five the difficulties are serious.

Therefore, PAM demands workers laid off due to covid restrictions be compensated for their loss of earnings in full because the situation is not their fault.

Text:: Hildur Boldt