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‘Clever employers will start paying': Workers join together in call for £10-an-hour wages

08 October 2018 by
‘Clever employers will start paying': Workers join together in call for £10-an-hour wages

A series of organised strikes held across the country have seen workers from TGI Fridays, McDonald's and JD Wetherspoon call for wage increases to £10 an hour with unions saying "clever employers will start paying".

A spokesman for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which represented striking workers from McDonald's and JD Wetherspoon, claimed more than 500 people attended a rally in London's Leicester Square last week at which Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell and general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O'Grady, spoke.

Workers from the two companies are demanding wage increases to £10-an-hour and union recognition. A BFAWU spokesperson said: "The evidence shows hospitality is a low paid industry where precarious contracts are rife, and the workers are coming together to say they have had enough and to stand up and demand change.

"Clever employers will realise it's not a question of if £10-an-hour will become the minimum norm it's when and so clever employees will move with the time and start paying that and clever employers will start engaging with their staff through trade unions."

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: "These young workers are leading a growing movement against low pay and insecure work in the hospitality sector and across the gig economy."

However the companies affected have highlighted the relatively small number of staff participating in the strike action.

In a statement TGI Fridays said: "Our team members are a part of our Fridays family. We believe they should be - and are - treated and paid fairly. All team members are paid at or above the National Minimum Wage hourly rate and they keep 100% of tips with zero admin charges. Team members' pay is regularly reviewed.

"Our team members are vital to the success of the business and we invest heavily in them. We offer careers, not just jobs, with initiatives such as an apprenticeship scheme and industry-recognised qualifications. All of this - and more - means that our team turnover is around half of the average for the hospitality industry. We know the vast majority of our team members recognise this and this is why out of a workforce of over 5,500 team members, fewer than 0.5% are involved in this action."

In September JD Wetherspoon, which saw staff from two Brighton pubs - the Bright Helm and the Post & Telegraph - join the action, said it had increased pay rates by £20m in the year ended July 2018, with a further increase of £27m planned for this year. The pub group said it also awarded bonuses and free shares to employees amounting to £43m a year.

Chairman Tim Martin said: "Wetherspoon intends to increase pay in real terms in most years, subject to economic conditions, as we have tried to do in the past.

"Everyone in the pub and restaurant industry works very hard and the late and early hours are extremely demanding. The people who work in the business are our most valuable asset.

"It is understandable that there is pressure on pay with low unemployment and a housing shortage. However, bonuses, free shares and other benefits should be taken into account in assessing pay."

A McDonald's spokesperson said: "All restaurants remained open as usual on Thursday despite frustrating attempts by protestors at a handful of locations to impact our customers, and our restaurant teams. This is the third attempt at action; and according to our records none of our people were on strike. Any suggestion this activity was widespread and growing is not accurate - fewer restaurants, fewer employees involved and less support for the union from our people."

UberEats couriers also took strike action on the same day, briefly occupying the lobby of the company's London headquarters.

Staff at JD Wetherspoon, McDonald's and TGI Fridays to strike>>

Workers at two TGI Fridays sites to walk out in 24-hour strike>>

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