Grosvenor House Marriott Hotel 86 Park Lane, W1K7TN London.
May 21st is National Waiters Day. This is an Industry sponsored event, involving a race in Hyde Park for waiting staff. The day aims to incentivise people to enter the profession. What isn’t talked about are the poor conditions, poverty wages, anti-union attitudes, Zero Hours contracts and Service Charge fiddling by Management meaning you don’t actually get your full tips.
On this day we plan to highlight the need for collective fightback, organisation and unions. We will be taking our protest to the birthplace of the Zero Hours Contract – the luxury Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.
Back in 1983, waiters on casual contracts working in the Banqueting Suite of the Grovsenor House hotel tried to organise a union and were dismissed. They took their case to court claiming unfair dismissal. The employer, represented by Alexander Irvine QC who later went on to become Chancellor under the Tony Blair Labour government, argued that the workers did not have equal rights with the other waiters because they were ‘casuals’ and not ’employees’.
The bosses won, case law was established and this paved the way for the Hotel and Hospitality sector to become the incubator for Zero Hours contracts. Since then we’ve seen them spread to other industries. Thirty years on, and waiting staff at Grosvenor House still do not have permanent contracts.
At 4pm, when the starting gun fires for the Industry’s race in Hyde Park, we’ll start our protest, over the road, representing the real race we see – the race to the bottom, based on our work and our wages.
Prior to our colourful mass action at the Grosvenor, we’ll have two lunchtime protests at Cafe Rouge (or should it be Cafe Rogue? – they charge 10% ‘admin fee’ just for putting tips into workers’ bank accounts) and Pizza Express (8% charge) focusing on Fair Tips. Details TBA.
So JOIN US, on Reclaim Waiters Day, Take action on zero hours, stolen tips, low pay and union busting. Let’s wait no more for justice! Take over the industry’s hashtags – #BeProud and #NWD x