photo Zoetnet/Creative Commons

photo Zoetnet/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Helen Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs

Harrods is the latest in a long line of employers that has been outed for stealing staff’s tips.

Customers have been paying tips expecting the money to go to the department store’s restaurant workers, but it has instead been lining the pockets of Harrods’ owners. Restaurants Pizza Express, Strada and Zizzi are just some of the others who have been taking a cut of tips.


Unite the Union launched a campaign against Pizza Express last year. The firm was stealing part of tips paid by card.

Trade unionists made appeals to customers in the restaurants to leave any tips in cash to ensure it went to staff, and Pizza Express has since changed its policy.

Now the United Voices of the World trade union is taking on Harrods for retaining 75% of tips. This amounts to as much as £5,000 for each member of staff.

Every hospitality and catering worker has their own stories from the industry. When I worked for a pub chain, our tips would be confiscated to make up any discretion in the tills.

Last year when the Tories introduced a new minimum wage – the wrongly named ‘national living wage’ – Eat and Caffè Nero attacked their workers’ terms and conditions to claw back the meagre increase in pay.

The only way to stop these attacks and unfair treatment is for restaurant staff to get organised and join a union. 2016 saw a mini-wave of low-paid workers fighting in this way, from cleaners at the London School of Economics and John Lewis, to the Deliveroo couriers’ strike victory against wage cuts.

These workers have shown that if we fight, we can win against unscrupulous employers.