The Queen’s top grocer ‘shopped’ in tips row

London protest: The Queen’s top grocer ‘shopped’ in tips row

14 December 2016

Fair tips campaigners will target the Queen’s grocer, Fortnum and Mason tomorrow (Thursday 15 December) over its Scrooge-like raid on staff wages and service charge payments which has left staff seriously short-changed.

A fixture in Piccadilly since 1707, the luxury grocer stands accused of operating a tipping policy shrouded in secrecy with staff and customers unaware of how much of the 12.5 per cent service charge it automatically adds to diners bills it pockets for itself and what share is given to staff.

WHEN: Thursday 15 December, 17:30-18:30
WHERE: Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly St James London W1A 1ER

Unite, the UK’s biggest union, which has been campaigning for fair tips in the hospitality industry for nearly a decade, is calling on Fortnum and Mason to ‘come clean’ and tell staff that its new tronc scheme – the electronic pooling of tips and service charge for distribution – will leave them worse off.

Staff working in any one of the store’s four restaurants, where afternoon tea costs £46 per person, have been told they must accept a cut in pay to the government’s so-called national living wage of just £7.20 an hour to get a tiny share of the service charge which barely covers the loss in their hourly rate.

Contrary to the union’s repeated calls for tronc systems to be run by ‘staff for staff’ without any undue influence from employers, Fortnum and Mason has appointed an outside consultant, a former tax inspector as tronc master, giving him sole discretion over the scheme’s operation.

The protest comes as Unite welcomes the progress made in developing a jointly endorsed set of guidelines with the employer’s association, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (AMLR) which will ensure greater fairness and transparency around tipping and the distribution of tips.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “Fortnum and Mason bosses are treating its loyal and hardworking staff with utter contempt. It needs to start operating a fair, clear and transparent policy to show how it distributes its 12.5 per cent service charge or risk alienating staff and customers alike.

“We believe that diners will be outraged to learn that the 12.5 per cent service charge they have just paid is being controlled entirely by an outside consultant without any input from staff or clear information on how much of the fee it is pocketing for itself.

“Such underhand practices, which remain rife in the industry, highlights why the current business secretary needs to deliver on the government’s promise to crack down on dubious tipping practices.

“Fortnum and Mason holds the royal warrants to supply groceries to the Queen, and tea and groceries for Prince Charles. The public would expect better from a company with such august connections.

“We remind the government of the huge public outcry sparked by the last tipping scandal and urge it to get a move on with publishing the recommendations of its consultation into tipping which closed on 27 June this year.

“It’s simply inexcusable that there remains a stubborn core of unethical employers willing to use tips and service charges for their own enrichment,  when others in the casual dining sector have taken positive steps to adopt fairer and more transparent tipping policies.

“We are pleased to be working with the employers’ association, the AMLR in the development of jointly endorsed guidelines to help ensure fairness and greater transparency around tipping and the distribution of tips.”


For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777
Note to editors:

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey