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TGI Fridays CEO awarded massive pay rise – as waiters struggle to pay rent
Hajera Blagg, Monday, July 23rd, 2018

As TGI Fridays workers continue in their fight for fair tips, it has now been revealed that the restaurant chain’s top boss is cashing in on a massive pay rise – which takes her total pay to more than £350,000 a year.


TGI Fridays chief executive Karen Forrester has seen her pay skyrocket from £260,000 to £365,420 annually – a 40 per cent pay rise – despite the fact that she’s overseen only a modest rise in turnover and an actual fall in pre-tax profits.


The irony isn’t lost on striking TGI Fridays workers, who are fighting the introduction of a policy that has seen 40 per cent of their card tips taken from them – the exact same percentage by which their CEO’s pay packet has soared.


Under the policy introduced earlier this year, TGI Fridays has redistributed nearly half of waiters’ card tips to kitchen staff without their consultation, instead of giving kitchen staff a proper pay rise.


The policy, which was railroaded through, sparked a series of strikes over the summer, with more walkouts potentially on the horizon. A ballot for further strike action opens on Thursday (July 26) and is set to close on August 10.


TGI Fridays waiters expressed anger over Forrester’s pay rise, which was awarded at a time when the CEO’s low-paid workers are struggling to make ends meet under a tipping policy that’s slashed £250 a month from their take-home pay.


“I thought they were taking 40 per cent of our card tips for a kitchen staff pay rise, but no – they’re taking 40 per cent of our card tips for a Karen Forrester pay rise,” one waitress told UNITElive. “What’s essentially happening is one of the 1 per cent are taking 40 per cent of my card tips to make their personal wealth bigger.”


Another waitress told UNITElive that she was angry “Karen [Forrester] is getting a pat on the back in the way of 40 per cent pay rise for implementing a money saving initiative to take 40 per cent off her low-paid staff.”


“We have had to limit our food shops to £15 a week; to stop taking our kids to their after school clubs; to give up our cars, and our once a year holiday; to go from working six days a week to seven just to be able to pay rent and afford to get to work – all to pay for an already spectacularly wealthy person’s inflated salary.”


Government tipping report

Revelations of Forrester’s pay rise comes as the government has been accused of dropping its pledge to bring in tipping reforms.


Today (July 23) marks 765 days since the consultation on tips closed, but the government has yet to publish a response to the consultation.


A recent freedom of information (FoI) request found that the government has not even started drafting a response yet – a revelation that Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull called “scandalous.”


“Every day that passes since its consultation on fair tips closed is another day that allows bad bosses to exploit low paid workers,” he said. “It gives the likes of TGI Fridays the opportunity to interfere and manipulate the systems used to distribute tips internally to rip off workers and customers alike.


Labour MP Stephanie Peacock agreed.


“While ministers drag their feet, workers and customers alike are being ripped off by rogue bosses who are grabbing tips that were intended for staff,” she told the Independent.


“It is appalling that staff, often in precarious employment, are going into another busy summer season without the basic protection they deserve, with workers at TGI Fridays worked to take strike action to demand their share.


“Government inaction will only fuel the suspicion that they have quitely abandoned their promises and want to let rogue bosses off the hook,” Peacock added. “Ministers should come clean, and if they’re going to take real action to stop this scandal, they need to get on with it.”


Turnbull warned the government that Unite would not let up in its fight for tipping justice.


“Government ministers will be sorely mistaken if they think this issue will go away and they can brush it under the carpet,” he said. “Unite will not allow that to happen.”


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