Workers at American restaurant chain TGI Friday’s who are members of the union Unite have begun strike action today (24 August 2018), in continuation of a dispute regarding tips and minimum wage.
The strike is being undertaken by employees at restaurants in Milton Keynes, Covent Garden and Stratford City. Protests will be taking place today and tomorrow (25 August 2018), and the walkout will end at midnight on Sunday 26 August.
This is the latest in a series of industrial actions organised by Unite in protest of a new policy introduced in January. The union states that employees were given two days’ notice regarding a change that sees a percentage of tips from card payments earned by wait staff redirected to bolster kitchen wages. Unite alleges that this is to avoid paying kitchen staff a higher wage, and costs minimum wage employees £250 a month.
Dave Turnbull, Unite regional officer, said: “Our members are striking for a historical fifth time, not because they wanted to but because they’re not being listened to. It is [organisations] like TGI Friday’s that give the hospitality industry a bad reputation. The sooner it realises that the workers will no longer stand idly by and be exploited, the better it will be.”
The series of protests, the most recent of which took place on 4 July 2018 across three London restaurants, as well as sites in the north-west, Wales and Glasgow, aim to commence discussion with the organisation to put an end to the policy across the chain’s 81 UK sites.
“It is inexcusable that a company, which claims to have the best interests of its workers at heart, can continue to refuse to sit down with our members and their union to settle this dispute,” Turnbull continued. “Unite will continue to maker the case for action in these branches to expose bad practice across the entire business. Our message to the [organisation] is ‘pay your staff fairly and talk to the union’. Together we can find a sensible solution to this dispute.”
A TGI Friday’s spokesperson said: “Our team members are a part of our Fridays family, and we care about them. We believe all our team members should be, and are, treated and paid fairly. [100%] of tips go, as they have always done, to our team members, and our tipping and pay policies are separate. Overall, the change to our tipping policy has had positive feedback from our Fridays Family. However, we are listening to the small minority of our team members who are unhappy with the changes and are collectively working to find a resolution.”