Protestors are set to target American-style steakhouse STK London within the ME London hotel on the Strand today (Friday 5 February) over claims that it is not fairly distributing cash tips to staff.
The group from the Unite union has organised a "Fair Tips" protest to take place at the hotel at 7pm this evening, following allegations that the company is using the 15% discretionary service charge on customer bills to top up the salaries of four senior managers by as much as £50,000 per year each.
"Restaurants and bars were banned from using tips to top up staff wages to the legal national minimum back in 2009, but that clearly hasn't stopped STK from finding a nifty loophole to subsidise managers' wages above and beyond the national minimum wage."
Unite also accused the company of keeping staff and customers "in the dark" over details of its tronc scheme, despite repeated requests to reveal them, the union claimed. This came following the results of the investigation into tipping in August 2015 by business secretary Sajid Javid MP, which concluded that tronc systems should be independent and free of employer interference.
The union has also launched a campaign against the hotel's Spanish-based owner, Melia Hotels International, over its alleged refusal to recognise the trade union, which it says puts the company in breach of its globally-signed agreements.
These are said to include the signing with the International Union of Food, Agriculture and Hotel Workers (IUG-UITA) to promote ethical standards, which Unite claims included acknowledging the right for allow workers to organise collectively.
In response to the allegations, however, Mr Marly, general manager at ME London, told The Caterer: "ME London follows standard hospitality industry practice through the use of the tronc system. We are currently reviewing the service charge policy and have made great progress in our discussions with our employees and the union, to ensure that it reflects our staff and customers' views."
He would not comment further on specific claims.
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