Workers at TGI Fridays’ restaurants in Milton Keynes, the Trafford Centre Greater Manchester, London’s Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden will stage their third 24 hour walk-out this Friday as the dispute over tips and alleged minimum wage breaches hits the chain’s brand reputation.
Bruce the burger – the strikers mascot – will be back on the picket lines in London between 1.30 – 2.30pm and again between 5.30-7.00pm -protesting the company’s tip policy change which is costing low waged waiting staff up to £250 a month in lost wages, as well as numerous alleged breaches of the minimum wage and contractual entitlements.
Strikers from the Trafford Centre Greater Manchester will stage an hour long protest from 1.30 at Bridgewater Circle. Workers from Milton Keynes Stadium will stage a picket outside the restaurant between 5.30-7pm.
Unite has warned TGI Fridays owner, Electra Private Equity to get its house in order, following last week’s announcement that the London-listed investment group, which has a 78 per cent in TGI Fridays, has put itself up for sale.
At 11.15am strikers and supporters in London, along with Bruce the burger will deliver a letter, first to Investment bank Greenhill which has been appointed to oversee the sale -before moving to Electra’s London headquarters-warning potential buyers of the considerable reputational damage already caused to the TGI Friday’s brand because of the company’s refusal to sit down with the union to settle the dispute.
A recent YouGov poll has revealed that the TGI Fridays brand’s impression score (whether someone has a positive impression of a brand) has taken a hit since February when reports of the company’s decision to take 40 per cent of waiters’ tips without consultation first hit the headlines. The brand’s reputation score has also fallen, dropping from four to zero over the same period.
“TGI Fridays’ refusal to listen to workers is to blame for the considerable reputational damage suffered by the brand in the past few months,” said Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull.
“Customers don’t like exploitation–the company’s decision to redirect 40 per cent of waiters’ to the kitchen teams in lieu of a pay rise, with just two days’ notice and without consultation – a move costing low waged workers £250 a month in lost wages – is hugely exploitative,” he added.
“Unpaid trial shifts, making low waged workers complete compulsory training in their own time, without getting paid and cheating workers out of money they’re rightfully owed-is also exploitative and fundamentally wrong. The public gets this, it’s a shame that TGI Fridays does not.
“TGI Fridays and restaurant chains like it are risking their brand’s reputation if they don’t get their houses in order and start paying staff a wage they can live on and treat them with respect.
“With the chain’s owner, Electra, putting itself up for sale, the time has come for common sense to prevail. It’s time to get around the table to find a sensible solution and a better way forward.
“TGI Fridays is warned that our members are more determined than ever. The strike is solid, more workers are joining the union every day. We will not back down until the company sits down with us to settle this dispute.”