Team members from TGI’s in London’s Covent Garden and Milton Keynes have begun a 24-hour walk-out as part of an ongoing dispute with the casual dining chain.
In February the restaurant group changed its tipping policy to redistribute 40% of all tips received on credit or debit cards to back-of-house staff.
Trade union Unite says the move has angered staff on both sides of the pass, and claims the company is using waiter's tips to top up the wages of kitchen workers to avoid giving them a pay rise.
The practice is prohibited by Unite's Fair Hospitality charter, which TGI's is signed up to.
A TGI’s spokesperson told BigHospitality in February that the changes were in the "interest of fairness" and followed discussions with a “large segment of team members” and “research in to industry norms”.
But Unite regional office Dave Turnbull warned the restaurant chain was facing a "summer of disruption" if it did not meet with staff to find a "sensible solution" to the dispute.
“This isn’t about minimum wage servers not wanting to share with their kitchen colleagues, [it's] about a company whose shareholders have gotten so greedy that they no longer want to pay their hardworking staff anything above the bare minimum," said Turnbull.
Staff at TGI’s sites in the Trafford Centre, Greater Manchester, and Haymarket Piccadilly in London have also voted to walk-out over the issue on 25 May.
The results of further staff ballots in Enfield, Greater London and Newcastle are due today (18 May), meaning staff at six sites could be on strike from 1 June.
TGI Friday's said in a statement: “Our team members are a part of our Fridays family, and we care about them. We believe all our team members should be – and are – treated and paid fairly. Despite this, a small number at Milton Keynes Stadium and Covent Garden have voted to strike. We are listening to them and are collectively working to find a resolution. In the meantime, we will be doing all we can to ensure our guests receive the usual great dining experience and that the restaurant remains open as normal.”
In 2016 a Government report recommended all restaurant tips go directly to staff, though there has been no legislation passed on the issue.