Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has lodged a claim with the employment tribunal over the unfair sacking of ‘fair tips’ activist, Robert Czegely, a waiter at the five star STK restaurant in the Melia ME Hotel in Aldwych, central London.
A protest in support of the sacked waiter will be held tonight, (Monday 6 June) from 19:00 outside the STK Restaurant, ME London, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA.
Unite has accused hotel bosses of heavy-handed, anti-union bias over the sacking and victimisation of the Hungarian waiter in a blatant breach of his fundamental right to join and actively participate in a trade union.
Robert, who had been leading a waiters’ grievance against the hotel's unfair tipping practices and was active in Unite’s ‘union recognition’ campaign, was dismissed on 25 May for alleged ‘gross misconduct’ after being found with a union flyer he had produced in support of the workers’ ongoing campaign for fair tips and union rights.
Concerns that the company was cheating staff out of their fair share of tips in an alleged service charge scam were first raised by waiters last November, and later exposed in the Evening Standard and Guardian newspapers.
The Spanish-based hotel chain has been under pressure from the union for failing to honour its international commitments to respect the right of workers to organise and be represented by trade unions in their respective countries.
Unite London regional officer for the hospitality sector Dave Turnbull said: "It is truly shameful that a few days after business secretary Sajid Javid indicated that he would act to ensure transparency and fairness on tips and service charges, a global hotel chain, such as Melia, should sack an employee for supporting our campaign to achieve this outcome.
“Melia proudly boasts of its ethical business stance on workers’ rights, yet this sacking flies in the face of any such claims. We are clear that this dismissal was in breach of Robert's basic legal right to join and participate in a trade union.
“It also brings into sharp focus the need for the business secretary to underpin any regulation on tips and service charges with additional worker protection. It should also send a message to senior executives within Melia that workers in their UK properties should enjoy the same basic rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in other countries across the globe."
Photo opportunity today: Unite hotel workers will be holding a solidarity protest with Robert on Monday 6 June from 19:00-20:00 outside the STK Restaurant, ME London, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA. Robert will be available for photos and to be interviewed.
Melia has signed a global agreement with international union federation the IUF which commits it to allowing union access at their properties in the UK. This agreement has not been upheld in London, leading to multiple protests by Unite.
For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777
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