Yesterday, members of Unite the Union and Greater Manchester Unite Community held protests outside TGI Fridays outlets around the region as part of a national day of action.
Leaflets were handed out to customers headlined 'You wouldn't be happy if 40% of your burger was missing...'
Since the turn of this year, without any consultation, TGIs took 40% of card tips from waiters and handed the proceeds to kitchen staff. Some waiters have lost up to £250 a month.
"This has nothing to do with a fairer distribution of tips between front and back of house staff, as the company claims" states Unite "It's happening because the company has cut kitchen staff wages and now has a serious recruitment and retention problem in its kitchens.
"We don't think it's right that companies like TGI Fridays are using the tips you leave as a 'thank you' for good service to subsidise their own poor pay policies" the union adds "Kitchen staff at TGI Fridays deserve a proper pay rise. It's not up to diners, like you, or minimum waged waiters to top up their wages. That's the company's responsibility. And besides, it should be up to staff to decide how tips are shared..."
Kenny, a Unite member who joined the protest outside the Prestwich branch of TGI Fridays, told the Salford Star that nicking 40% of waiters' tips is "nothing short of an abomination in this day and age.
"People are working hard trying to give a good service but are having to turn part of their tips over to the management" he added "I think it's very embarrassing for a large company like TGI to be caught up in what I can only describe as abhorrent treatment of the workers. We need to ensure that workers get paid what they are supposed to get paid – people don't give tips to the company, it's for the service that they provide."
The TGI protests follow on from the 'McStrike' in which McDonald's workers were fighting for better conditions and pay, as those working in food service start to organise.
"We're here to back the campaign to support all workers who work in the hotel and catering trade" said Salford's John Catterall of Unite Community Greater Manchester branch "For years and years it's been a student job but now it's got to the point where people are not necessarily students, who are on zero hours contracts and also on low wages.
"To cap it all you've got some companies, TGIs being one of them, who are not giving the tips to the people who should be getting them" he added "So if you go in there and leave a quid as a tip it goes into the management pot. We just want people to be aware of what's going on in these kind of places."
The union is asking TGI Fridays customers to tip in cash, which is more likely to go to the person serving. The bar staff and server assistants do already get a 20% share.
Meanwhile, staff at four TGI Fridays restaurants have already taken strike action over management practices. For more details on the dispute see the Unite website – click here.