Workers at TGI Friday’s prepare for strike … on Friday, obvs

Workers at TGI Friday’s restaurants in Milton Keynes (Stadium) and Covent Garden, London will on Friday take their first ever strike action on in a dispute over tips and minimum wage abuses which could cost waiting staff £250 a month in lost wages.

The Unite members voted by 100%, on a 75% turnout to walk out. The American dining chain, which has 81 restaurants in the UK, will be hit with a series of 24 hour strikes starting on Friday and continuing over consecutive Fridays during the summer.

The dispute arose when the company introduced a new tipping policy with only two days’ notice which would see money earned by the waiting staff redirected to top up the low wages of kitchen staff, a move driven by the need to stop the high turnover of kitchen staff.  The move means waiting staff can lose up to £65 per week from their wage packets.

With industrial action ballots at four more restaurants currently underway, and more planned, the restaurant chain is facing a summer of major disruption as the chain’s world-class waiters and waitresses stop work.

The ballot results of workers at TGI Friday’s restaurants in the Trafford Centre, Manchester and Haymarket in London Piccadilly are due on Friday 11 May 2018, with the vote by workers at two restaurants in Gateshead Metro Newcastle and in Enfield, greater London closing on Friday 18 May 2018.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “Given this over-whelming vote for action, TGI’s outrageous wage grab has clearly caused the workforce to say ‘enough’. TGI’s has been sent a loud message that our members will not be bullied and shoved into pay poverty.  If TGI’s wants to look at how it can reward kitchen staff, then work with us on a fair solution – not implement an overnight wage grab where Peter has been robbed to pay Paul.

“Our members are also deeply offended by the company’s attempts to make out that they don’t want to share when the reality is that TGI’s don’t want to give kitchen staff a properly funded pay rise. TGI’s staffing problems are being caused by its poor pay policy, not poorly paid workers.

“TGI Friday’s management has handled this issue badly from the start. Our members are facing real hardship, losing as much as £250 a month from the tip policy change, but the company refuses to meet with workers or listen to their concerns. If they carry on like this then they will destroy the workforce’s trust and consumer confidence simultaneously.

“We urge TGI Friday’s to working with us to find a better way forward. We are ready to talk to find a sensible solution to this dispute but TGI Friday’s must recognise the distress and hardship its decision has caused, and start rebuilding trust. In the meantime, we ask TGI customers to support the waiting staff and tip in cash.”

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