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Marriott, Hilton furlough ‘tens of thousands’ of employees in the US

New York, March 18 (IANS) With the tourism sector taking a severe beating amid the coronavirus pandemic, Marriott International and Hilton have reportedly started furloughing “tens of thousands” of employees — from general managers to housekeepers — in the US.

According to Hotel Trades Council that represents hotel and gaming workers in New York and northern New Jersey, more than half of the union’s 40,000 members have been laid off in these areas, reports The New York Times.

All 6,000 members of the union’s casino division have been laid off with the casinos across the state remaining closed over the weekend, according to the Council.

Two Hilton-managed properties in the US — the Capital Hilton in Washington D.C. and the New York Hilton Midtown — have temporarily suspended operations.

“There are various reasons behind these decisions, but we are committed to fully restoring operations and welcoming back guests/team members as soon as the business environment allows,” Hilton said in a statement.

A Marriott spokesperson told Wall Street Journal that the company had started closing some managed properties last week, sending the workers home.

While Marriott has not laid off any employee at the corporate level, the possibility is “under discussion”.

At a roundtable with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, hoteliers, including Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, admitted that they were running at an average of 10-15 per cent occupancy around the world.

“We are adjusting global operations accordingly which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties. Our associates will keep their health benefits during this difficult period and continue to be eligible for company-paid free short-term disability that provides income protection should they get sick,” Marriott said in a statement.

Once the outbreak is contained and travel resumes, Marriott expects to bring back “as many of the furloughed employees as possible.”

London-based World Travel & Tourism Council said last week that up to 50 million travel-related jobs could be at risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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