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Why Harrods staff are striking over tips

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Historic and upmarket, Harrods in London has become synonymous with designer shopping. However, it seems some workers at the store aren’t entirely happy with their conditions.

Workers at the department stores’ 16 restaurants have staged a protest because they feel it is unfair that bosses keep up to three quarters of the service charge on each food bill. It means staff are missing out on up to £5,000 annually, which could top up their wages.

The demonstration has taken place outside Harrods as shoppers and tourists passed. The protest was organised by United Voices of the World (UVW), which is the trade union representing kitchen and waiting staff at the department store, which is owned by Qatar Holdings. Dozens of workers waved bright yellow banners which said: “Stop stealing our tips.”

Service charge

In total, it is estimated that nearly 500 waiters and kitchen staff are employed in Harrods’ eateries. UVW general secretary Petros Elia said that customers expected the service charge to go to staff when they paid it, adding that if Harrods was going to keep some of it, this should be clearly stated and reasons given.

A spokesperson for Harrods has said that the store is now taking a fresh look at how tips are given out. They added that all staff at its restaurants received fair pay which was above the national living wage.

She explained that, like many other restaurants, Harrods operated a Tronc system to manage the distribution of the service charge which was added to bills, and that Harrods was now engaging with staff in a bid to try to resolve the issue.

Harrods has 16 restaurants, including The Georgian Restaurant, which is best known for its afternoon teas, Caviar House Seafood Bar where caviar costs up to £200, and Laudurée which serves up famous macaroons. It has become increasingly popular with tourists wishing to take advantage of the struggling pound in the wake of the Brexit vote.