Workers at four TGI Fridays stores struck on Friday of last week in their dispute over tips and pay.
The restaurants involved were in Milton Keynes, London Covent Garden, Trafford Centre in Manchester and London Piccadilly. The latter two were out for the first time as part of the dispute.
Workers were set to walk out again on Friday at the four stores. The action is over the transfer of 40 percent of tips from waiters to kitchen workers.
Workers were given just 48 hours notice of the change.
“If they get away with this it sets a precedent for the rest of the hospitality industry,” Sally from the London Piccadilly branch told Socialist Worker.
TGI Fridays was sold to private equity firm Equita for £225 million four years ago.
Since then wages for kitchen workers have stagnated while rises in the national minimum wage meant waiters’ pay rose.
Management brought in the 40 percent tips robbery to offset that stagnation. Sally said it’s put waiters in a situation where “people can’t afford to travel to work."
“One woman lost £80 in two shifts,” Sally said. “We can’t afford to take that kind of hit.”
Workers are clear that they want the dispute to be about more than just tips.
Their Unite union says the dispute is about fair pay as well as tips, but has yet to ballot workers over wages.
The strike at the Trafford Centre was particularly successful. According to one worker, “We only served two customers on the morning shift and all of the workers on the afternoon shift were out on strike.”
Sally described how before the tip changes, relations between the front and back of house “had been good” at the Piccadilly branch. Afterwards they “deteriorated quickly.”
It is not too late to ballot all workers over demands including a minimum wage of £10 an hour and an equal share of tips.