Waiters urge Pizza Express to ‘give us our dough’ in W...

Waiters urge Pizza Express to ‘give us our dough’ in Waiters’ Day protests – 21 May

19 May 2015

Waiters, the UK’s worst paid workers, will call on Pizza Express to stop pocketing an estimated £1 million that should go to poorly paid staff, at a protest in central London on Thursday 21 May. 

WHEN: Thursday 21 May, starting at 12:00
•    12:00 Pizza Express Leicester Square, 43 Charing Cross Road, Leicester Square, WC2H 0AP
•    16:00, Grosvenor House Marriott Hotel, 86 Park Lane, W1K 7TN 

Protesters will tell Pizza Express, which has 430 outlets across the UK, to ‘give us our dough’ and ‘stop pinching our tips’ over the company’s continued practice of deducting an eight per cent admin charge from customer tips paid with a credit card.  

Seven years ago Unite’s successful fair tips campaign lifted the lid on restaurants misusing tips to top up wages to the minimum wage. The law was changed, but this has not been enough to stop Pizza Express pocketing an estimated £1 million a year from the credit card admin charge, according to Unite. 

Later in the day, protesters will take the fight to end zero-hours contracts to the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London – the birthplace of the zero-hours contract - where many waiting staff, particularly banqueting staff still do not have permanent contracts. 

According to a snap survey of Unite waiting staff in London, 88 per cent feel cheated out of tips, 20 per cent are on zero-hours contracts and 63 per cent earn the minimum wage of just £6.50 an hour. 

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is reclaiming National Waiters’ Day to stand up and speak out against unfair tipping policies, zero-hours contracts and poverty pay which have left waiting tables top of the list of the UK’s worst paid jobs. 

Speaking ahead of the protests, Dave Turnbull, Unite regional officer, said: “Back in 2008, Unite spearheaded the fair tips campaign with protests outside restaurants like Pizza Express. Fast-forward seven years and we’re back to call on the company to scrap its unfair admin charge on tips once and for all. They claim it’s standard industry practice - it’s not. 

“Our members whether they work behind bars, in restaurants or provide room service in hotels are proud of the jobs they do. But they are angry at the disrespect shown to them and their profession by highly profitable hotel and restaurant chains.

“If the hospitality industry is serious about inspiring more people to wait tables for a living it needs to do more to take poverty pay and zero-hours contracts off the menu for good.” 

For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777 

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

Note to editors: 

National Waiters’ Day was launched two years ago by the hospitality industry to encourage more people to consider waiting tables as a serious career choice. 

Details of protests:

Thursday 21 May, 12:00:  Unite waiting staff will leaflet and hold up placards outside Pizza Express’ flagship restaurant on Charing Cross Road, Leicester Square. 

In an echo of Unite’s successful ‘fair tips’ campaign, Unite will be appealing to Pizza Express customers to pay their tips in cash and to tell the management that they are doing this because they object to the eight per cent fee. 

Thursday 21 May, 16:00: Protesters will leaflet and hold up placards calling for an end to zero-hours contracts outside the Grosvenor House Hotel. 

In 1983, waiters on casual contracts working in the banqueting suite of the Grosvenor House hotel tried to organise a union and were dismissed. They took their case to court claiming unfair dismissal and lost. Case law was established which paved the way for the Hotel and Hospitality sector to become the incubator for zero hours contracts. The employer, represented by Alexander Irvine QC argued that the workers did not have equal rights with the other waiters because they were 'casuals' and not 'employees'.