TGI Friday’s is facing the first strike over tips in the UK in an escalation of a row between waiters and the restaurant chain.
In February the casual dining chain, which has 83 outlets, proposed redistributing 40% of service charge payments paid on credit and debit cards to back-of-house employees, including kitchen staff, in lieu of a wage increase.
Waiting staff are angry about the loss of card tips, which the Unite union claims they were not properly consulted about. Kitchen staff are said to be unhappy about swapping a rise in basic pay for a share of tips.
Tips distributed via an automatic system called a tronc are excluded from national insurance, but that also affects the calculation of statutory payments such as redundancy, maternity pay and pensions.
The company has denied that the decision to award kitchen staff a bigger share of tips was for tax reasons.
Unite said it would ballot workers at two TGI Friday’s #restaurants about strike action over the new tips policy and allegations of unpaid trial shifts. Ballots will start in Covent Garden in central London and Milton Keynes next week, while there will be a protest outside the Covent Garden restaurant on Friday.
“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.”