Unite hails ‘fair tips’ victory in Pizza Express campaign

Unite hails ‘fair tips’ victory in Pizza Express campaign

03 September 2015

Champagne corks over Pizza Express’s decision to scrap the eight per cent administration fee on tips were popping tonight (Thursday 3 September), as Unite, the country’s largest union, hailed a victory in its ‘fair tips’ campaign.

Unite has been in the forefront of the campaign against the 430-strong Pizza Express restaurant chain for not passing on the tips paid by credit card in full to waiting staff.

The union will now be turning its attention to other restaurant companies, such as Ask Italian, Prezzo, Belgo, Strada, Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Zizzi which have not been playing fair on tips to staff.  

Unite said that business secretary Sajid Javid needed to press on with his recently announced consultation on tipping policy and shine a light on bad practice in the hospitality industry as a matter of urgency.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “First of all, I would like to thank our Pizza Express members for the very brave stand they have made against a powerful multi-national company.

“Against the odds, they have breached the wall of bad practice that has surrounded tipping policy in the UK for far too long. We have been proud to represent them and this shows that with your union by your side you can obtain justice. 

“Unite welcomes the long overdue decision by Pizza Express to scrap its unfair tax on tips. With our membership we will be closely monitoring the implementation of the new policy to ensure it is both fair and transparent.

“The tronc system – the method used to process and distribute card tips through the payroll – needs a radical, modernising overhaul.

“To ensure the process of allocating tips is wholly independent from employers we want to see new guidance on tronc schemes that ensure only waiting staff themselves are eligible to hold positions, such as tronc ‘master’ and on the tronc committee.

“Also such officers should be nominated and elected by staff and are obligated to consult widely with all staff before contemplating any future changes to the distribution and share of tips.

“We will turn tonight’s demo at the Baker Street Pizza Express into a short victory celebration – a truly champagne moment - and call on other chains to follow the lead of Giraffe and Pizza Express.”

Pizza Express, which employs 10,000 people, today announced changes to its tipping policy. From 6 October, tips made on electronic card payments will now to be fully distributed among employees as agreed by the company’s tronc committee. 

Dave Turnbull added: “The campaign really caught the public’s imagination. Almost 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the company’s unfair tipping policy to be scrapped.

“People were outraged that the hugely popular, family favourite pizza chain had been skimming a proportion of its staff’s hard earned tips.
“Waiting staff are among the UK’s worst paid employees. Pizza Express waiting and kitchen staff are paid the national minimum wage of just £6.50 per hour – no matter how long they’ve worked for the company.

“They are heavily reliant on customer tips to top up their low pay – so today’s announcement will boost their income.”

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull is on: 07980 721427 

  • 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.