Pressure mounts on TGI Fridays to ‘pay staff fairly’ as low waged workers stage second historic strike
- Thursday 24 May 2018
Workers at TGI Fridays in Milton Keynes and Covent Garden in London will mark their second historic 24 hour walk out tomorrow (Friday 25 May) with lively pickets and a picnic, as two more restaurants join the strike over tips and alleged breaches of minimum wage legislation.
Members of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, working at TGI Fridays’ restaurants in the Trafford Centre, Greater Manchester and at Haymarket in London’s Piccadilly are joining the strike for the first time as anxiety mounts over a tip policy change which is costing minimum waged workers £250 a month in lost wages.
Meet our mascot - Bruce the burger, named after the chain’s £12.49 Bruce Lee burger - will be on the picket lines in London – Covent Garden and Haymarket Piccadilly – between 13:30-14:30 and again at 17:30-19:00 - supporting strikers in their fight for fair pay and fair tips.
For details of the pickets lines, protest and the picnic in Victoria Tower Gardens SW1, see below in notes to editors.
The walkout comes a week after the first strike, which was strongly supported by the public. Workers are striking over the company’s refusal to hear a collective grievance over its decision to redirect 40 per cent of card tips, with just two days’ notice, from waiting staff to boost the low wages of kitchen staff, as well as numerous alleged breaches of the minimum wage and contractual entitlements.
Unite has alleged that bad business decisions are to blame for TGI Fridays’ current woes, and is urging the hedge fund owned dining chain, led by managing director Karen Forrester, to pay people fairly, instead of robbing one group of low paid workers to pay off another.
Evidence uncovered by Unite has revealed that kitchen staff wages are lower now than they were four years ago, before TGI Fridays was sold to the private equity firm Electra in a £225m deal in 2014.
In 2014, a senior shift, back of house leader was paid £9.35 an hour, today the hourly rate is just £8.40 an hour. Lower grade back of house posts have seen a 60p drop from £8.45 to £7.85 for those aged 25 and over.
Waiting staff at TGI Fridays are paid as little as £5.90 an hour (the minimum wage for 18-20 year olds) or the national living wage of £7.83 an hour for workers aged over 25 and rely on tips to boost their meagre wages.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “It’s shocking that not only have kitchen staff wages not risen in the last four years, they actually appear to have fallen.
“TGI Fridays should be paying workers a wage they can live on, not robbing the tips from one group of low waged workers to pay off another.
“Not only are our members – some of whom are paid as little as £5.90 an hour losing up to £250 a month, both kitchen and front of house are also regularly being cheated out of money they are rightfully owed as a statutory right.
“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 Peter to pay Paul.
“To be clear, this isn’t about minimum wage servers not wanting to share with their kitchen colleagues. It’s about a company whose shareholders have become so greedy that they no longer want to pay their hardworking staff anything above the bare minimum.
“But this strike is about more than tips – it’s about challenging bad practice by a profitable, hedge fund owned company. It’s about exposing alleged minimum wage abuses and saying ‘enough’ to being cheated out of money that is rightfully owed.
“Customers are urged to join the thousands of people supporting the TGI strikers, sign our letter to the CEO and tip in cash.”
The strike has been backed by Jeremy Corbyn. In a statement the Labour leader said: “Solidarity with TGI Fridays workers on strike against tips being taken from waiting staff to 'top-up' low wages paid to kitchen staff. I met TGI workers last week and they deserve our support.”
For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777.
Note to editors
Details of pickets, protest and picnic
12:00-13:00 Workers from TGI Fridays and a Unite representative will be available for interview from between 12:00-13:00 at Victoria Tower Gardens (the park next to parliament) Millbank, Westminster London SW1P 3JA.
13:30-14:40 and 17:30-19:00: London picket lines, contact Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777
Covent Garden: TGI Fridays, 6 Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9HZ
Haymarket Piccadilly: TGI Fridays, 25-29 Coventry Street, London, W1D 7AG.
12:00-13:00 Trafford Greater Manchester protest: Contact Unite organiser Anthony Curley on 07718668507 to arrange interviews.
Location: Bridgewater Circle M17 8AT, the roundabout leading into the Trafford Centre.
17:30-19:00: Milton Keynes picket line: Contact Unite hospitality coordinator Charlotte Bence on 07788641516
TGI Fridays, 16 Stadium Way, G1 & G2 MK1 Leisure Park, Milton Keynes.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.