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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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'Pay your staff their well-earned tips': Protest outside Dublin restaurant over workers' conditions

Independent TD Joan Collins spoke as activists stood outside The Ivy restaurant on Dawson Street this afternoon.

Demonstrators outside The Ivy today
Demonstrators outside The Ivy today
Image: Sean Murray/TheJournal.ie

REPRESENTATIVES FROM TRADE unions, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and former staff held a demonstration outside The Ivy restaurant in Dublin city centre today, calling for employers not to deny waiting staff their tips in the run up to Christmas.

Independent TD Joan Collins and two former Ivy workers were then due to meet with Dublin Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe along with USI deputy president Michelle Byrne to discuss concerns about exploitation, tip theft and workers’ rights in the hospitality sector. 

“December is the busiest month  of the year for workers that rely on tips in the hospitality sector,” campaigners said in a statement. “This continues the campaign against the Scrooge-like bosses in certain restaurants and establishments in Dublin who continue to deny their workers their tips in the run up to Christmas.”

It follows action earlier this year from a number of activists outside the upmarket The Ivy restaurant to protest working conditions.

The issue came to light in November 2018, when staff at the Dawson Street venue were told they wouldn’t be allowed process payments from customers after management alleged some waiters were asking patrons to pay tips in cash, rather than on a credit card.

In a notice shared with RTÉ’s Liveline programme, it said this practice would stop the “deplorable greed” being shown to guests at the restaurant by those who request cash.

The Ivy said at the time that when a tip is paid by credit card, it goes towards a shared gratuity per hour that all restaurant staff – including front of house, bar staff and kitchen porters – receive.

“This is paid in addition to their hourly wage and is guaranteed by the company in that the company will make up any shortfall and is, therefore, regardless of whether any tips are paid by patrons,” it told Liveline.

Dublin South-Central TD Collins told TheJournal.ie today that the action this afternoon was a “continuation of protest” and she claimed management at the restaurant were keeping tips from workers “who are already low paid”.

She said workers could be contracted to earn €10.50 an hour but are only paid minimum wage with the money to make up the rest of that coming through the tips they earn. 

“Don’t be going to a restaurant that proliferates this type of action and takes tips off workers,” she said.

We’re appealing to people to have a bit of a conscience. Why go into a restaurant that does this to workers?

Two former Ivy waiting staff - Lenka Laiermanova and Julia Marciniak – were at today’s protest.

Marciniak told TheJournal.ie that prior to the opening of the restaurant last year, staff were promised “completely different things” and claimed that their wage packets didn’t match the tips that had been left by customers.

“It’s a luxury restaurant, the bills are big and people spend a lot of money and most people buy on credit cards,” she said.

Now an activist with union Unite, Marciniak said that strong legislation is needed to protect hospitality staff – their tips, hours, breaks and other rights.

“We need to make sure tips and service charges go to the workers,” she said. “A lot of people think service charges go straight to the waiting staff but that’s not the case.

Collins added that are two pieces of legislation going through the Dáil – one from Sinn Féin senator Paul Gavan and the other a government-backed bill – but neither are likely to progress through this side of Christmas.

TheJournal.ie has contacted The Ivy for comment on today’s protest. A spokesperson said: “The Ivy Collection is committed to our employees and their welfare. As per our policy, an optional discretionary 12.5% service charge is added to bills.

This service charge does not form part of the national minimum wage or agreed higher wage and is shared with all staff excluding management in addition to employees agreed hourly wage. This additional payment is guaranteed by The Ivy Collection, in that The Ivy Collection will make up any shortfall regardless if tips are paid by patrons.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie in March, a spokesperson said: “The Ivy collection would like to clarify that 100% of credit card tips are shared amongst the entire 150 staff members (excluding management). 

“A gratuity per hour is paid to every staff member in addition to their contractual hourly wage and is guaranteed by the company in that any shortfall, regardless of whether any tips are paid by patrons, will be made up by the company.”

It said that “all cash tips are kept by the individual waiter/waitress, although they are encouraged to share these tips with their colleagues”.

With reporting from Hayley Halpin, Adam Daly

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Sean Murray

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