American chain restaurant TGI Friday’s will be subject to more than 30 nationwide demonstrations today (Wednesday 4 July 2018) in a dispute over the organisation’s tip policy.
The demonstrations, which have been organised by trade union Unite, will take place at three London restaurants, as well as sites in the north-west, Wales and Glasgow. Available employees are participating in the demonstrations, alongside Unite’s community membership and other members wishing to support affected TGI Friday’s staff.
According to Unite, the dispute concerns unpaid trial shifts, minimum wage non-compliance, and the organisation taking 40% of waiters’ tips from card payments to redistribute, in lieu of providing a pay rise to kitchen staff.
The changes to TGI Friday’s tip policy is estimated to cost minimum wage employees £250 a month in lost wages, according to Unite.
Unite members working at TGI Friday’s have already undertaken four days of strike action over consecutive Fridays between 18 May 2018 and 8 June 2018 in relation to these complaints.
The trade union has previously stated that waiting staff over the age of 25 earn £7.83 an hour, and waiters aged between 18 and 20 earn £5.90 an hour, with tips typically used to boost these incomes.
TGI Friday’s ranked third on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) March 2018 minimum wage non-compliance list for failing to pay 2,302 employees a total of £59,347.64.
Dave Turnbull, regional officer at Unite, said: “The fourth of July is a big celebration for the American-themed restaurant chain, and Unite wants to make it a day they’ll never forget. Our members are tired of being ignored and very upset that the [organisation] and its [chief executive officer] Karen Forrester, are refusing to recognise the financial hardship and anxiety its decision has caused.
“We are protesting because we don’t think it’s right that big name chains like TGI Friday’s are using the tips customers use as a ‘thank you’ for good service to subsidise their own poor pay policies. Kitchen staff used to be paid more, in recognition of their skill, but the gap has narrowed since the introduction of the government’s national living wage in 2016.
“TGI Friday’s needs to pay all staff fairly and dig into its own pockets, instead of robbing the tips from one group of low paid [employees] to pay off another. And it should be up to staff to decide how tips are shared out, not employers.”
TGI Friday’s was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.