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The Ivy Restaurant management in Dublin’s Dawson Street at one o’clock this afternoon ordered the blinds to be pulled down on the windows. This is their usual response when demonstrators arrive to picket their restaurant, as they did today. The Ivy restaurant is part of a profitable chain and in Dublin at least is using tips paid to staff by customers to help make up the staff’s wages. Bluntly, stealing tips that were paid for service by customers who assumed they were in addition to wages already received (which, as everyone knows, are low enough in the “hospitality” trade).
Some passing vehicles beeped in solidarity and many passers-by took photographs or video as the picketers lined up with placards and some banners and shouted:
“Eat your steak, eat your chips, pay the staff their well-earned tips.”
Also: “Pay the workers what they’re due!”
One observer enquired why the staff put up with it and did they have a union; he was informed that they had but two staff were sacked for organising the union and the remaining and replacement staff are frightened not only of losing their jobs but also of getting a bad reference for other work. Such staff are often migrants who are vulnerable, in need of work to buy food and pay rent and without a support network such as family in Ireland.
The sector has long been known as one of insecure work, few rights, low unionisation and low pay. However, the deduction of customers’ tips to incorporate them into staff wages seems a new low for this sector and the Ivy is by no means the only restaurant doing this. But here is where the battle has broken out and here it must be won, to encourage workers in this sector and to make it known to restaurant owners that this practice will not be tolerated.
The issue and the practice of the Ivy has been reported a number of times in the mainstream media and the solidarity protesters come every now and again, set up their placards, hand out leaflets to passers-by and shout their slogans. The Management draw the blinds. The picketers leave after about an hour (many to go back to work) and the blinds are lifted again. But the campaign has affected their business. And Unite the Union, which is supporting the sacked staff, is setting up a hospitality sector branch.
Today a number of elected public representatives were on the picket line, including Cieran Perry, Independent DC Councillor and Independent TDs Thomas Pringle and Joan Collins.
If you want to support the campaign you may wish to share their posts and find other ways to help through the Stop Tip Theft Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SupporttheIvyWorkers.ie/