Unite’s campaign against restaurants skimming waiters’ credit card tips was a resounding success this summer. Pizza Express, along with other high street chains such as Zizzi, Ask and Giraffe gave in to public pressure spearheaded by Unite after months of active campaigning.
Now, waiters working at these chains are able to keep 100 per cent of the tips they earn, whether they’re paid for in credit or cash.
But the fight is not over – and Unite will not relent until the practice of charging admin fees on credit card tips is relegated to the dustbins of history.
One restaurant that continues the practice, STK, the trendy American steakhouse in the swanky ME hotel London, will find itself in the spotlight this Christmas over its Scrooge like raid on staff tips and unfair practices.
Protesters wearing Scrooge masks and holding fair tips placards will be urging management at the ME Hotel Aldwych today and tomorrow (December 17 and 18) to join Pizza Express and the Giraffe chain by scrapping the six per cent admin fee it takes from tips paid on a card.
Business secretary, Sajid Javid whose investigation launched in the wake of the tipping scandal and closed on November 10, is reminded that staff and customers alike are crying out for justice. He must not introduce a system that will make it lawful for an employer to pocket a proportion of staff’s tips, Unite has warned.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said members who work so hard at STK “feel badly let down by their employer”.
“They have deep concerns over the way the company operates its tronc scheme,” he said. “We feel that the electronic tips’ pool system used to share out tips lacks fairness and transparency, not to mention the six per cent slice the company pockets from their hard earned tips.”
“Our Fair Tips campaign has highlighted many such instances in London’s top hotels, where highly dubious tronc schemes – the electronic tips’ pool system used by companies to share out tips – offer no transparency and are often directly and unfairly controlled by management,” he added.
“Many of the UK’s most popular restaurant chains realised that they were on the wrong side of public opinion,” Turnbull went on to say. “As a result they vowed to change their policies after the scandal hit the headlines over the summer. Now it’s time for hotels to do likewise.”
Turnbull explained that the Melia Hotel Group, which owns the ME Hotel London, White House Regents Park and Inside Hotel in Manchester has signed a global agreement with the International Union of Foodworkers which provides for access to trade unions and respect for the rights of workers to organize.
“So far the company has not reached any form of agreement with Unite on honouring the spirit of this agreement for its UK workforce in the three hotels it currently operates,” he said.
“Unite will be re-visiting this issue in the New Year and there are likely to be further protests at Melia’s three UK hotels if we are unable to get the company to abide by the ethical standards that it signed up to in its international commitments.”
Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec said that the business secretary Javid’s ruling on the investigation he launched in the wake of this summer’s Fair Tips campaign is expected sometime in the New Year.
“We are urging the business secretary not to let unfair tipping practices blight the UK hospitality industry,” she said. “He needs to understand that the only fair way forward is to takes steps to ensure tronc schemes operate in a fair, transparent and ethical manner and to let staff keep 100 per cent of their tips, no deductions, no excuses.”
Join Unite this today and tomorrow (December 17 and 18) at 6pm at the Christmas demo , STK London, ME Hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA.