Socialist Worker

TGI Fridays restaurant strikers say bosses won’t divide them

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2605

Solidarity at the TGI Fridays protest in Covent Garden

Solidarity at the TGI Fridays protest in Covent Garden (Pic: Guy Smallman)


TGI Fridays workers and their supporters protested in Covent Garden, central London, on Friday. 

Unite union members at the restaurant chain’s outlets in Covent Garden and Milton Keynes had walked out that morning. Unite said the strike is “over a tip policy change which could cost waiting staff £250 a month in lost wages".

The workers are courageously fighting against a firm whose boss Karen Forester took home £1.3 million last year. 

Natalie from the Covent Garden restaurant said, “In January we were given two days notice that 40 percent of our tips would be given to kitchen staff.” 

Bosses have tried to use this to divide workers. As Bonnie from the Milton Keynes told Socialist Worker, "The company has pitted us against each other, kitchen staff should have higher pay in the first place.

“Most of the kitchen team are with us, but are not in the union.” 

Unite has to fight for unity among all TGI Fridays workers and demands for a living wage and equal share of tips could help. 

“That should be the end goal,” agreed Bonnie.

She described how the tips policy change by bosses was the final straw. “They stopped our free meals when we're on a 12 hour shift,” said Bonnie. “Now they've pissed us off—they've taken it too far.”

Solidarity 

Workers from the McDonald’s dispute came down to offer solidarity. “The support we got for our strikes was important to pass on," said Lewis. “Other workers need to feel the support of the wider trade union movement."

Workers at two other restaurants—the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester and Haymarket Piccadilly in central London—have also voted to strike. They backed strikes by 100 per cent on a 63.3 percent turnout and are set to walk out next Friday, 25 May.

The results of another two ballots at Enfield in north London Greater and Gateshead Metro in the North East were due to announced. This means workers at six restaurants could be on strike from Friday 1 June.

“When we all come together and get unionised we are stronger," said Natalie. “We will be heard—not only in our company, but across the hospitality sector."


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