A group of Unite members have won “a David and Goliath” battle against a hospitality company which unfairly dismissed them.
As part of a wider struggle against exploitation in the hospitality industry, Unite supported the five workers in taking their case to tribunal after they were fired from the Grosvenor Café in Glasgow in September 2017.
The firings came after the Better than Zero campaign group targeted the café’s parent company G1, which controls a number of bars and restaurants, after it was fined £45k for failing to pay 2,895 staff the minimum wage.
The tribunal ruled that the G1 Group had “breached the contracts of three claimants by failing to give notice or payment in lieu”, while the other two workers have been “unfairly dismissed… in terms of Section 98 of the Employment Relations Act 1998”.
The ruling came after G1’s lawyers conceded that the firm had breached employee statutory rights when they refused to allow the staff to be represented by their trade union representative.
Unite Hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson said, “The G1 Group threw everything at this case; media smears, intimidatory tactics and the best lawyers money can buy and yet a collective of minimum wage bar staff have came out on top.
“This was very much a David and Goliath story for the hospitality industry – one that should give confidence to hospitality workers across the country that they do not need to put-up with exploitation. They should join Unite Hospitality and get involved in the campaign to transform the industry.”
The G1 victory is part of wider nationwide initiative to improve working conditions in the hospitality sector from the ground up.
Recent actions include lending support to striking TGI Fridays workers, helping three exploited London hotel staff organise in the workplace and take their employer to court and standing in solidarity with McStrike workers.
Changing unacceptable behaviour of bosses
“Unite is determined to take on and change the unacceptable behaviour of hospitality sector employers. Everyday workers in restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels across the country are treated terribly,” said Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec.
“The issues are endemic and widespread; sexual harassment, bullying, unlawful wage and tip deductions, shifts cancelled at short notice, having to work through breaks – the list goes on and on and is reflective of the disregard many hospitality bosses have for their staff.”
She added, “By challenging exploitative and unfair practices in hospitality, it sends the message that workers in the sector can organise against bad bosses and win and that Unite will support them to do that.”