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Restaurant workers set for walkout over tips policy

Staff at TGI Fridays in Covent Garden gear up for industrial action over pay dispute

18 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Unite boss Len McCluskey, left, joined Saturday’s TUC rally calling for a ‘new deal’ for workers

WORKERS at TGI Fridays in the West End are gearing up for a series of rolling strikes in a summer of disruption for the American restaurant chain.

Staff will walk out of the restaurant in Bedford Street, Covent Garden, for 24 hours in protest against a new tipping policy.

Waiting staff say they are losing £250 a month from the system which redistributes their tips to low-paid kitchen workers. Kitchen staff had asked for a pay rise but were offered a cut of the waiters’ tips instead.

The union Unite has warned that weekly 24-hour walk-outs on consecutive Fridays will begin if the US-chain does not change its policy. A protest will be held outside the branch at 11am today (Friday) before joining striking staff from McDonald’s in Oxford Street for a low-pay rally in Trafalgar Square. Workers at the branch in Haymarket have also voted for a strike next Friday, May 25.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “This is not about minimum-wage servers not wanting to share with their kitchen colleagues. Our members have sent a very clear message that they will not roll over and be bullied into having their tips taken, without any consultation and with just two days’ notice – a move that will leave waiting staff up to £250 a month worse off.” He added: “We are calling on TGI Fridays customers’ not to cross the picket line this Friday.”

Last year a number of chains, including Pizza Express, and also the department store Harrods changed their tipping policy after a campaign from the union.

A TGI Fridays 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. Despite this, a small number at Covent Garden have voted to strike. We are listening to them and are collectively working to find a resolution. In the meantime we will be doing all we can to ensure our guests receive the usual great dining experience and that the restaurant remains open as normal.”

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