It really is one of those stories that makes for great radio phone ins – a large corporation taking a percentage of their underpaid staff’s tips (the average gets the minimum wage, just £6.50 p/h).
But the recent protest against a ‘tip tax’ don’t just apply to Pizza Express but it’s claimed other restaurants and groups apply similar tip taxes, including ASK and CDG group which takes 10% (they own Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo).
The actual claims, by the Unite union, are that Pizza Express take 8% fee from tips paid by card. These restaurants claim that this tax on their staff is to cover the costs of managing a Tronc system “correctly and fairly”, and insists it does not make any profit from the practice.
One researcher claims they take over £1,00,000 a year from their staff across 430 restaurants.
A recent report by Mintel cites ethics as a key consumer trend, “Growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour will see consumers demand more fairness and justice from companies and companies consult consumers more.”
It’s ironic that 2015 is the 800th anniversary of the first ever citizen’s bill of rights – the Magna Carta.
Mintel highlight that the ethical treatment of workers is a key factor for almost half of all consumers (44%) and more important than environmental policies (33%). While in the US, 82% of diners believe a restaurant that treats its employees fairly influences their restaurant choice.
Mintel’s consumer trend ‘Buydeology’ has become a way to express one’s opinion on a brand, company, or issues and already features pay day loan companies, tax-dodgers, animal-rights abusers and companies that pay low wages!
The Unite union has backed the protests and is supporting restaurant workers with an online petition and survey.
David Turnbull. a spokesman for the union, compares the unethical practice used by Pizza Express to other restaurants. “The Restaurant Group (owners of Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquito and Garfunkels) hand 100% of tips paid on cards to their staff. If they can do it, why can’t Pizza Express?”
“The message is, tip cash only.”
In an age when consumers are becoming more ethical, in any competitive market the decision to go to one brand or another can be determined by how a brand behaves, not by what it’s gloss ads or social media says.
“Reputation is everything,” as they say, and Pizza Express’s is in big trouble