The first strikes in a UK casual dining chain in decades have moved a step closer today (April 11), after Unite notified TGI Fridays that it will be balloting workers in two branches for strike action, in what will be the first in a series of strike ballots over the coming months.
Waiting staff at the American dining chain’s Milton Keynes and Covent Garden restaurants are being balloted from Wednesday, April 18 over breaches of the company’s tip and tronc policy and minimum wage abuses. The ballots close on Tuesday, May 1.
TGI Fridays which has 83 branches across the UK is now facing a wave of rolling strike ballots as the union prepares to ballot workers in two restaurants a week from Friday (April 13).
A protest will be held outside the chain’s Covent Garden branch this Friday (April 13) from 6.30pm to mark the launch of the first ever strike ballots to hit TGI Fridays since opening its first UK restaurant in Birmingham in 1986.
TGI Fridays, which is majority owned by the private equity firm Electra, has come under fire in recent weeks over its use of unpaid trial shifts and for taking 40 per cent of waiters’ card tips and redistributing them to kitchen staff in lieu of a pay rise. It also topped a list of firm’s named and shamed by the government for failing to pay workers the legal minimum wage.
“Our members are bravely fighting back against a system that forces workers to live on low pay and without income security,” said Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull.
“They have decided to ballot for strike action in a wave of rolling strike ballots over the coming months because their employer has refused to address their concerns on tips and other issues. Unite is proud to support them.
“The ballot of TGI Fridays workers comes just days after workers at fast food giant McDonalds decided to ballot for further industrial action at six stores, building on their historic strike last September,” he added.
“Standing up for your rights and challenging bad practice is hard when the threat of having your shifts cut or losing your job looms over you. It takes courage to fight back, which is why these TGI Fridays’ workers and the McStrikers deserve our respect.
“Unite is urging TGI Fridays workers from across the UK to join the union. It’s not too late to have your say and demand better from your employer.”