08/11/2018 - Some victories but fight continues at TGI Friday

tgifridaysThe fight for fair tips and pay justice at TGI Friday took steps forward this week. The union representing workers there, Unite, warned bosses that the new concessions were just the beginning.

Front-of-house staff at the food chain have won significant concessions as as a result of negotiations between union representatives and bosses at the chain.

The union won agreement that staff meals will be reinstated in TGI Friday’s branches, and unpaid trial shifts and online training sessions at the company will be scrapped.

The union has also forced management to restore the “Tronc committee,” which allows staff to pool tips together and fairly share the tips out, after the committee was abolished in January.

They have also managed to reduce the amount of tips that go to kitchen staff to 35 per cent, rather than 40 per cent.

The dispute began in January, when front-of-house staff were given 48 hours’ notice that 40 per cent of the tips they receive would be redistributed to supplement the wages of kitchen staff, who are paid the minimum wage and have a high turnover.

Some front-of-house staff claimed that they were set to lose as much as £250 a month as a result of this action, which was imposed by bosses without discussion.

Bosses claimed that the policy was necessary to address the problem of struggling to retain kitchen staff.

However, workers opposed the move as a divide-and-rule tactic and refused to accept a real-terms pay cut for the company’s inability to hold on to workers.

Workers joined Unite in large numbers and voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action.

By May, four TGI restaurants in Milton Keynes, London and Manchester went on strike, which were the first to hit the chain in its 32 years of business in Britain.

Since then, the workers have gone on strike eight times and have gained widespread support from across the trade union movement for their stand.

Unite south east regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “The fight isn’t over.

“This would never have happened had they not joined the union and fought back. They believed that they would win and bit by bit they are winning.

“This is just the beginning — now more than ever TGI Friday’s workers and all hospitality workers need to stick together and join a union.”

Pat Harrington of Solidarity commented: "When I talk to young people they often don't know what a union is or the benefits of belonging to one. Our brothers and sisters in Unite have reached out to non-unionised workers and delivered a practical lesson in that. It's sad that the bosses sought to use tips from one section of workers to make up the low pay they had for other workers. Tips should be a bonus for all workers not something they have to rely on for a decent standard of living."