Sunderland's Fire Station and Dun Cow make staff redundant and say they have 'no idea' when venues can reopen

Staff at two Sunderland pubs have lost their jobs as the coronavirus lockdown continues to bite.

Hourly-paid staff at the Dun Cow and the Engine Room in the Old Fire Station have been laid off by Pub Culture, the firm which runs them both on behalf of owners Leighton Management and Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust.

Staff at two other venues the firm runs in Newcastle have also been made redundant.

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One former employee, whose partner also worked for the firm, said staff across the four sites had been informed a fortnight ago that they would be let go with a week’s official notice.

The Old Fire Station

She believed around 50 people were affected: "They were told there would be a consultation period of a week and that would be it,” she said.

"My partner had built up a good relationship with his colleagues and feels that it was not handled well. They got the impression some people would be retained because when they do reopen, they are going to need some staff.

"Who is going to work there when they do reopen and why have they not taken the opportunity of the £1,000 per employee retention scheme the government has offered?”

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The Dun Cow

The Echo has been unable to contact Pub Culture’s Operations Manager to confirm exact numbers but a spokesperson said: “This is an extremely challenging and uncertain period and the health of our customers and staff is our paramount concern.

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"It is impossible to know when things will return to normal but we are looking forward to reopening our premises and are continuing to employ as many staff as possible to allow us to do that once we are sure that it is safe to do so.

"We are in the same position as the Empire, the same position as the football club, when it comes to social distancing.

“The £1,000 retention scheme is if you keep people on until the end of January, and you are able to give people work. We have no idea of when we are going to be able to reopen.”

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