“Why Are We Waiting?”

Restaurant staff protest over ‘unfair’ distribution of tips

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A number of restaurant chains have come under fire over their ‘unfair’ usage of staff tips. Workers’ union Unite is campaigning for a change in the law to close the loophole that allows employers to use tips to pay the minimum wage.

This practice, which is common amongst High Street brands, was highlighted by the case of ‘whistleblower’ Nabil Guiguis who was dismissed for speaking out over the unfair deduction from staff tips at Pizza Express.

Last week’s demonstration outside the Wimbledon branch of the company where Mr Guiguis had worked for the past 17 years was part of a wider campaign to demand that all restaurants distribute service charges and restaurant tips fairly.

Unite’s Dave Turnbull said, "I’m sure Pizza Express customers expect that the tips they leave for good service goes to the staff and would be upset that the restaurant are creaming money off the top.”

Pizza Express is by no means alone in this custom, a brief survey of waiting staff in Chiswick revealed that in some restaurant workers receive just 40% of service charge paid by customers regardless of the method of payment.

As well as using tips to calculate the minimum wage, Unite is also calling for an end to operators keeping a percentage of service charges to cover admin costs.

Turnbull added, "It is vital that restaurants operate a transparent tips service so customers know that the service charge they leave goes to the hard-working staff."

April 22, 2008