Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel is an art deco hotel connected to the convention centre in Addis Abeba.

While the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt the worldwide economy, Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel has decided on a 40pc cut of employee wages this month.

The management of the Hotel made the wage cut based on the new workplace protocol that was drafted and issued by the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs. The protocol was ratified after the Ministry, employers and worker confederations signed onto the tripartite document a month ago.

The hotel industry is among those that have been hit hardest by the effects of COVID-19. In the capital, 88pc of the hotels have closed their doors fully or partially, while room occupancy rates have sharply declined to below two percent.

In its letter that was posted on the notice board on April 28, 2020, the management announced a minimum 10pc cut to wages for employees that earn up to 3,000 Br each month and a maximum 40pc cut for workers earning over 20,001 Br each month.

Before reaching the decision, the management held a series of meetings with the employees and their representatives twice a week for a month, according to Haileleul Yilma, operational director at the Hotel, which is located in front of Anbessa City Bus Service Enterprise on Jacros Street.

“We've also given the employees a chance to come up with a proposal for the revision of their salaries," he said. "But since they didn't come up with one, we passed our decision."

The Hotel also consulted the city's Labour & Social Affairs Bureau about the decision, according to Haileleul, who added that the experts from the Office gave a two-day briefing to employee representatives from the different departments about the protocol.

"Then we posted the decision on the notice board," he said.

The Hotel, which has 250 employees, is operating at only 10pc of its capacity with the swimming pool, bar and restaurant closed. Its room occupancy rate has also fallen sharply with just 10 to 13 rooms occupied out of a total of 151.

Out of total employees, 105 have taken their annual leave, while the remaining are on duty. Some of the employees, those who used their annual leave earlier this year, decided to use their leave from next year.

The owners of the Hotel entered a 10-year management agreement with Swiss Inn at the beginning of this year after renovating the Hotel at a cost of 15 million dollars.

Twenty employees have also taken leave at their own initiative, stating that they do not want to work under the threat of COVID-19, according to the operations manager.

"Even though we were waiting to receive complaints or feedback from employees," Haileleul said, "no one came to us."

However, one employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that most of his co-workers are not happy with the management's decision, saying that it was made too early.

"We're not filing complaints, because we don't want to lose our jobs," the employee told Fortune.

Zemichael Messay, a lawyer and legal adviser, said that making the decision by discussing it with employees was the best way to have a common understanding. He also said that it is a timely move as most of the businesses, especially the hotel sector, is paralyzed because of the virus.

"So revising the salary ranges by having a common understanding will help keep both sides on track," he said.

However, Zemichael sees some limitations to the Hotel's decision.

"They should have to state the duration of the revised salary," he said. "And they should clarify if the new salary scales are going to be re-adjusted after five months when the state of emergency is lifted."

PUBLISHED ON May 02,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1044]

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