Workers at four branches of the TGI Fridays restaurant chain struck last Friday.
The Unite union members are fighting against bosses’ changes to the tips policy,
which has seen 40 percent of waiters’ tips go to kitchen workers.
The strikes have hit the branches’ custom hard. “Friday is our busiest day of the week,” London Covent Garden striker Liv told Socialist Worker.
“The morning shift was very quiet and it’s operating well under capacity here.”
Workers at branches in Milton Keynes, Manchester and Piccadilly, London, were also out. “I’ve worked here for over ten years,” Beattie told Socialist Worker.
“I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I wanted to be a waiter but our options are limited.”
She said that cuts have started being pushed through since the chain was bought by the private equity firm Electra.
“Lots of little things have been eroded,” she said. “We used to have someone who was paid to come and clean the outside of the restaurant but now they’re gone.”
Workers from the Trafford Centre branch met shadow chancellor John McDonnell in Manchester last Friday.
“Solidarity with TGI Fridays’ workers on strike against waiting staff tips being used to top up the wages of kitchen staff,” he said.
Striker Shantel told Socialist Worker the strikes have been “very empowering,” “If we win, we’ll win it for people at other TGI Fridays stores and make bosses think twice across the industry,” she said.
The union is demanding a return to the old tips policy, which means taking the money back off the kitchen workers.
Bosses could use this to divide workers. Other demands, such as for a £10 an hour wage for all workers, could broaden the dispute.