Responding to reports that waiters at Aqua Italia in Bristol are forced to ‘pay to work’, due to grossly unfair tipping policy, Unite, Britain’s biggest union has called on the company to explain itself and confirm the practice will be stopped.
Staff at Aqua Italia in Bristol, a company that has seven restaurants in Britain, have said that they are required to hand over three per cent of their total table sales back to the company.
A huge public backlash in the summer of 2015 forced the popular chains Las Iguanas and Turtle Bay to abandon the practice which can leave workers ‘out of pocket’ if they don’t make enough in tips to cover the levy.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “We’re hearing reports that one young waitress was forced by her manager to go to a cash point to take money out to cover her shift, when she failed to make what the restaurant demanded was paid as a fee for working that night. This is shocking and it must stop.
“The company needs to clarify whether this is a policy across the board or a local incident. Either way it has to stop.
“I am sure that thousands of diners enjoyed a Christmas meal at one of this group’s seven UK-wide restaurants totally unaware that some staff were ‘paying to work’.
“This is another reminder of the chronic lack of regulation in this sector, and of the ease with which a predominantly young workforce can be abused.
“It is also an urgent reminder that is has been 500 days and counting that restaurant staff have been waiting for this government to take action.
“For every day that goes by, yet more abuses come to light. It is now up to this government to crackdown on mistreatment. It can start by publishing its long overdue tipping report.”
Unite has been exposing rip off tip scams in the hospitality industry since 2008. The union had had many successes including getting the use of tips to pay the minimum wage banned and exposing the deduction of so-called admin fees from tips paid on a card.
The ‘admin fee’ scandal of 2015 prompted the government to launch an investigation, followed by a consultation into tipping abuses which closed on 27 June2016. Despite, repeated calls on the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, the government has yet to publish its tipping report.
For more information please contact Unite campaigns officer, Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777.
Note to editors
Aqua Italia has restaurants in Lewes, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Portishead, Worthing and Bath:
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Prompted by growing outrage at the sexual harassment of hospitality workers, Unite is currently conducting a survey into sexual harassment and urging workers to take part: http://bit.ly/NOTMSurvey
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.