Unite, the UK’s largest union and ‘fair tips’ campaigners is targeting TGI Fridays restaurants today (Wednesday 4 July) with over 30 demonstrations planned nationwide to protest the company’s unfair tipping policy and refusal to talk to the union.
The fourth of July or Independence Day in the US is a big day of celebrations for the American-themed restaurant chain, which Unite will help mark with protests in all regions of England and Wales, and also in Glasgow.
Workers at four TGI Fridays restaurants have already taken four days of strike action over consecutive Fridays (from 18 May to 8 June) in a dispute over exploitative work practices and a tip policy change which is costing low waged waiting staff around £250 a month in lost wages.
In January, waiting staff were given just two days’ notice that 40 per cent of their card tips would be cut and redistributed to kitchen staff, in lieu of a pay rise for this latter group of workers.
Unite has warned that the government’s failure to act on tipping abuses, as promised nearly two years ago when its consultation on tips closed (27 June 2016), has left the door wide open for ‘rogue’ bosses, including TGI Fridays to exploit.
Unite is urging diners to tip in cash and follow the national day of action on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #AllEyesOnTGIs.
Unite regional officer, Dave Turnbull, 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 company and its CEO, 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 Fridays 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 Fridays needs to pay all staff fairly and dig into its own pockets, instead of robbing the tips from one group of low paid workers to pay off another.
“And it should be up to staff to decide how tips are shared out, not employers.
“The business secretary, Greg Clark needs to act immediately to stamp out unfair tipping practices of this kind.
“This government’s failure to publish the results of its long overdue consultation into tipping abuses is allowing companies, like TGI Fridays, to keep hold of tips and manipulate the systems used to distribute tips internally to ‘rip off’ workers and customers alike.”