Jim McFarlane, Dundee City Unison secretary (personal capacity)
Young workers and their supporters staged a protest tonight in Dundee at the restaurant they perviously worked for after learning the owner planned to reopen under a new name.
Last month the staff walked out from Brassica after going unpaid for their work. Staff at Brassica are still owed nearly £30,000 in unpaid wages.
The business was closed and called in the administrators. One of the previous partners then rebranded the venue as Brasserie Ecosse and is looking to reopen.
The staff, working along with Unite Hospitality, called a protest on 7th November when they found out this was the night the restaurant planned to relaunch their business.
They were joined by trade unionists from Unite, UNISON, GMB, PCS, FBU and GMB who were at the monthly meeting of Dundee Trades Union Council and the IWW.
Also attending were Dundee Social Care workers threatened with cuts to their pay by Dundee City Council and Unite Shop Stewards from the Michelin factory threatened with closure and who also attended the Trades Council meeting.
The noisy protest meant the relaunch was postponed. Speakers included trade unionists and local councillors as well as Marc Jackson, Senior Unite Convenor at Michelin who passed on their support and solidarity.
A former Brassica worker outlined their story and exposed how the workers who had built the business had been treated terribly by their wealthy employers. He exposed the shameful misuse of the staffs tips fund.
They had accumulated nearly £10,000 in tips. When the business developed financial problems a few months ago the owners had used the tips fund to pay a debt to one of its suppliers, rather than pass this on to the workers.
The scandal of all this is it appears this business has done nothing illegal. However, the message is clear that this is not acceptable. If this business wants any future then it must pay these young workers every single penny they are owed, including tips.
The much publicised regeneration of Dundee’s Waterfront and the opening of the nearby V&A Museum are no substitute for decent jobs. The fight against exploitative businesses and employers can be won through the unity in struggle of workers in the private and public sectors.