Meliá Hotels International has refuted allegations that it dismissed a member of staff for having a union flyer in his locker at the ME London hotel.
Trade union Unite has alleged that Robert Czegely was dismissed for "gross misconduct" after being found with a union flyer he had produced in support of the workers' ongoing campaign for fair tips and union rights.
Earlier this week, Unite staged a protest in support of the fair tips activist who claims to have lost his waiting job at the five-star ME London's STK restaurant in London's Aldwych for having the flyer in his locker.
A spokesperson for Meliá Hotels International told The Caterer: "In response to recent allegations made about the dismissal of an employee of the STK Restaurant at the ME London hotel, Meliá Hotels International wishes to state that it has over 42,000 employees worldwide, and any allegations that it has dismissed, or would ever dismiss, an employee for the reasons being presented, to include having or distributing leaflets about legal union activity; demonstrating in the street or union activism within the law; positioning him/herself against the Group's policy and/or the remuneration standards approved by the government and the industry is expressly refuted and denied.
"Due to the ongoing nature of the confidential disciplinary process, neither the ME London nor Meliá Hotels International is in a position to make any further comment at this stage regarding the reason for the employee's dismissal."
Czegely, who worked at STK for two years, had been leading a waiters' grievance against the hotel's alleged unfair tipping practices and was active in Unite's ‘union recognition' campaign. He lost his job on 25 May.
Unite has lodged a claim with the employment tribunal on his behalf.
Concerns that Meliá was denying staff of their fair share of tips in an alleged service charge scam were first raised by waiters last November. The restaurant was alleged to have used most of a 15% service charge to increase senior management salaries instead of sharing it among low-paid workers.
Unite London regional officer for the hospitality sector Dave Turnbull said: "It is truly shameful that a few days after business secretary Sajid Javid indicated that he would act to ensure transparency and fairness on tips and service charges, a global hotel chain such as Meliá should sack an employee for supporting our campaign to achieve this outcome.
"Meliá proudly boasts of its ethical business stance on workers' rights, yet this sacking flies in the face of any such claims. We are clear that this dismissal was in breach of Robert's basic legal right to join and participate in a trade union," he added."