TGI Fridays, the American-style restaurant chain, is facing its fourth Friday (8 June) of strikes in a row as members of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, vow to keep striking in their dispute over tips and alleged minimum wage abuses.
The 24 hour strike by workers at TGI Fridays’ restaurants in Milton Keynes Stadium, the Trafford Centre Greater Manchester and London’s Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden will be marked with evening pickets as well as leafleting sessions in Manchester city centre. (Details in notes to editors).
Next week, (Tuesday 12 June) at 11:00 workers will deliver a letter to the business secretary Greg Clark at the Department of Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills (BEIS) in London outlining concerns that employers, like TGI Fridays, are continuing to use credit card tips left by customers as a tactic to drive down pay, two years after the government promised action to crackdown on ‘rip off’ tip scams.
Unite has warned TGI Fridays that it will keep up the pressure on both the company and the government until new rules are introduced to stamp out exploitative tip and other scams in the UK’s restaurant industry.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “TGI Fridays needs to realise that our members will not back down and that Unite is right by their side in the fight for fair pay and tips.
“The company’s refusal to sit down with staff representatives to agree a way forward is damaging the brand’s reputation. Its failure to recognise the hardship caused by its decision to take 40 per cent of their tips paid on a card is deeply hurtful and insulting.
“Some of our members have been with the company for 15 years. They are proud to be part of the Fridays’ family.
"They didn’t kick up much of a fuss when the company axed time and a half for working bank holidays, or even when they lost their free staff meals. But when they were given just two days’ notice that they’d be losing 40 per cent of their card tips to the kitchen teams, they had enough.
“It has become clear to Unite that TGI Fridays introduced this tip policy change to claw back the cost of the rises in the government’s national living wage (currently £7.83 an hour for over 25 year olds) and to avoid paying kitchen staff a proper wage.
“Evidence provided to Unite shows that the company have been less than truthful in claiming all kitchen staff have received a pay rise. From what we have seen the rates for kitchen workers are now lower than they were in 2014.
“TGI Fridays is not the only ones to do this, which is why the government needs to act to stop rogue bosses, like TGI Fridays, abusing tips and exploiting loopholes to cheat low waged staff out of the money they’re rightfully owed.
“That’s why we’re calling on the business secretary to publish the report on tipping. Because if it doesn’t, companies like TGI Fridays, will keep using tips and manipulating the systems used to distribute tips internally to ‘rip off’ workers and customers alike, as well as undermining the government’s national living wage.”
The letter also urges the business secretary to act on tips as a matter of urgency and publish its report on tipping which is now almost two years overdue. The government consultation on tipping closed, after an eight month investigation, on 27 June 2016.
Note to editors
Friday 8 June
Manchester protest / leafleting – Contact Anthony Curley Unite coordinator on 07718 668 507
12.30-1.30 in St Anne's Square, Manchester M2 7HW
14.30-5.30 St Peters Square, Manchester M2 3AE
17:30-19:00: Evening pickets
TGI Fridays, 16 Stadium Way, G1 & G2 MK1 Leisure Park, Milton Keynes, MK1 1ST
TGI Fridays, TGI Fridays, 6 Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9HZ
TGI Fridays, 25-29 Coventry Street, London, W1D 7AG.
Tuesday 12 June at 11:00 – Workers deliver letter to the Department of Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills (BEIS), 1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET