After a month-long campaign, the 483 porters, waiters and chefs who work in Harrods’ restaurants and catering services have been told they will be getting 100% of the tips given by customers — potentially adding to up to £5,000 per person per year.
Staff at the posh London department store had previously seen up to 75% of their tips taken away by an automated “Tronc” service charge system, with the cash going as profits to the firm’s owners, the Qatari royal family. In a statement, the the United Voices of the World union (UVW), which has been organising the workers, said:
We have beaten Harrods, the richest and most prestigious department store in the world! 100% of the service charge will now go to staff! Thank you to everyone for your support and a big congratulations to the resilience and courage of our members, the Harrods restaurant workers, who have achieved this victory by joining United Voices of the World, getting organised and standing up to their employer’s outrageous practices.
They also agree to our other demands of appointing an independent tronc master to administer the service charge and allowing staff to sit on the tronc committee. This victory sends out a clear message to the rest of the restaurant and hospitality industry that workers are no longer going to accept anything less than 100% of the tips and trade unions are ready to help them get organised and fight.
The success of the campaign at Harrods offers a powerful model to follow for other workers across the industry. We will now continue to push Harrods to improve the conditions and pay of their workers and demand proper union recognition.
Organisers with the UVW union had initially signed up workers before threatening a Christmas strike over the issue, forcing bosses to the negotiating table. They followed it up on January 7th with a rally which saw dozens of people picketing the store’s front doors and notices being placed around the building explaining its tip-stealing activities. A record number of chefs called in sick.
Panicked Harrods bosses responded by bringing in private security and police — who duly arrested six people on the day including UVW general secretary Petros Elia.