Grassroots union, United Voices of the World, which represents low-paid precarious workers in London, held a protest outside Knightsbridge Harrods on 7th January over waiters and chefs tips.
It has emerged that Harrods is withholding up to 75% of money collected as service charge from customers. The union has called for transparency over the ‘tronc’ system, and 100% of tips to be given to staff.
There is not as yet any legal requirement for Harrods to hand over the money, although that may change as the government has promised action and it held a public consultation last year. In the meantime, there is only a voluntary code of practice in place, organised by the British Hospitality Association, but although other major luxury hotel and restaurant chains have joined, Harrods is not listed as a member of the code.
In an opaque press release, Harrods claims it has been reviewing the tronc system for several months and is directly engaging with staff on the issue, but waiters have seen their tips go down over the years, while Harrods has reported record profits for four years running.
Harrods is owned by the richest family on the planet, the Qatari Royal Family.
Protest group ‘Class War’ supported the protest, and protesters vowed to keep returning to Harrods with various actions over the coming weeks until the store agrees to pass all customers’ tips onto the staff.