Trade union Unison will not boycott Hilton hotels over policy to refuse Cuban guests

Trade union Unison has backed down from a threat to lobby its 1.3 million members to boycott Hilton hotels following the company’s decision to refuse bookings from Cuban guests.

Under the ‘Trading With the Enemy Act’, US businesses and foreign subsidiaries are prohibited from providing services to Cubans. The embargo is part of a trade crackdown on the Caribbean country by the US government.

Hilton UK and Ireland is owned by the US parent company Hilton Hotels Corporation. It operates 73 hotels and employs about 15,200 staff.

Unison spends tens of thousands of pounds on rooms at Hilton hotels every year. General secretary Dave Prentis had threatened to move the business elsewhere, and has advised members to boycott the chain over its “contemptible” ban.

In a statement, Hilton UK and Ireland said it was accepting Cuban guests despite sanctions in the US. Refusing bookings from guests based on nationality, race, colour, ethnic or national origins, or sexuality was “not the policy of the company”, it said.

The company added that it did not “expect, require or counsel” its employees to violate UK laws, and it urged the government to make representations to the US administration to ease the sanctions within the tourism industry for US hotel companies operating in the UK.

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