Airport to Resort Swap

Swiss Chalet Staff

The big news this week seems to be that the Austrian government has passed a law meaning that ski companies have to pay their staff the company minimum wage. Now as we operate in France (and pay our staff a decent wage anyway), it is not of too much concern to us. But as someone who has worked a season for a British ski company it is interesting to see the reactions.

The Daily Mail reports that holidaymakers will pay up to £140 extra to accommodate this change in law, but will that really be the case?   

British staff heading out for the large tour operators generally get paid a pittance for their work, but working isn’t really the point of being out there so it’s alright. For them it is really about the experience of a ski season and how easy these ski companies make it to get that experience. After all, people with no experience of this lifestyle are sorted out from the trip from the UK, to accomodation, food, ski pass and equipment.

So who cares if they work 50+ hour weeks and 12+ hour days on weekends, and often all they will end up with is around £60 cash per week. You see previously British companies have put staff on British contracts (always a point of contention anyway) and paid them what is left of their minimum wage after their living space and lift pass, etc. have been taken out.

Of course some companies do it in slightly different ways, but in this writer’s experience it has always been some form of this system. And so in that way you get no say on where you live, and how much you pay for it.  When chefs are hungover you pay a fortune for a bowl of pasta, and you get some equipment from 10 years ago that you have very little idea how much you have paid for. But it’s all given to you on a plate - you don’t have to think about it, or plan anything - you are just in the UK one day, and living in a ski resort the next.   

That’s why it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the experience. I would suggest that if the same was happening in Grimsby (and I’m not saying that it doesn’t) people would be less happy about it. The euphoria of mountain living simply takes you along no matter what.

That’s why it is great for your first season, but in my experience most regular season workers try to get out of that lifestyle as soon as possible. They look back on their time with a mixture of fondness and a wish for a time when things where all taken care of for you. But they still got out as soon as they could!

So I suspect that the Austrian chalet companies worrying about their rise in wages will still survive just fine.  Maybe it will be that staff accomodation rates suddenly go up this year, or staff meals all start including saffron as their main ingredient this year. I guarantee that they will be able to offset the costs back on to the very people who work for them. When you hold all the cards, and the only people likely to complain are inexperienced 18 year olds, how can you not be absolutely fine in the long run.


By Admin