Unite union members at three TGI Fridays restaurants struck for three days over the bank holiday weekend.
The workers, mainly waiting staff, picketed and protested outside restaurants in Milton Keynes, Stratford in east London and Covent Garden in central London. The dispute is over a change in the company’s tipping policy.
Workers were told with two days’ notice that 40 percent of tips taken via card machines would be automatically transferred to kitchen staff to boost their wages.
The change has led some workers to lose hundreds of pounds a month.
The demand of the strike is a return to the previous policy. Unfortunately this has meant that kitchen workers have not joined the picket lines.
Workers should be balloted for demands including a pay rise for all, not a return to the bosses’ previous policy.
And workers don’t just want a return to the status quo—for them the strike is about fighting for real change.
Kiran, a Unite rep at the Stratford site, told Socialist Worker, “Sometimes people don’t see the bigger picture—this is about conditions in the hospitality industry in general.
“It’s not just about the 40 percent—we think that everyone should be on a higher wage.
“For instance, the kitchen staff don’t get their uniform paid for. They have to provide their own work shoes.”
Workers at the Stratford site were out for the first time and told Socialist Worker about some of the pressures they face. “We can be held back to clean down our section at the end of the day and that has to be checked over by a manager before we can leave,” said Kayne.
Lydia described how managers can clock workers out up to an hour before they have actually finished their shift.
Kayne added, “Our shifts usually overrun and we can finish hours after we’re supposed to.”
Kiran said that workers only get a break when they work more than ten hours, and then it’s unpaid.
Unite regional secretary Dave Turnbull said, “Our message to the company is, ‘pay your staff fairly and talk to the union’. Together we can find a sensible solution to this dispute.”