Petition launched after Fridays chooses to scrap staff meals

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Petition launched by Unite Hospitality after Fridays chooses to scrap free staff meals

Related tags Fridays Casual dining Hostmore Multi-site Unite union

Unite Hospitality has launched a petition calling on Fridays to reinstate free staff meals after it was revealed the casual dining chain is to scrap the benefit for its employees.

The trade union has described the move as being ‘ill-judged’ and ‘cynical’, but Fridays, formerly known as TGI Fridays, has defended the decision, saying it would ‘provide more equitable benefits to everyone in its teams’.

Currently, staff at Fridays who work 10 hours or more are entitled to free meal while on shift.

Those working less than 10 hours do not receive the benefit, but are given food discounts and free soda during working hours.

However, from the beginning of May, staff working 10 or more hours will also no longer be able to claim a free meal.

In a press statement, a spokesperson for Fridays said: “To provide more equitable benefits to everyone in our teams, we have made the decision to remove free shift meals for team members working 10 hours or more from 1st May 2023.

“We still offer all team members a range of industry leading benefits including 50% off our entire food menu and free soda during working hours, plus 50% off for up to 6 people which they can use all year round as many times as they wish.

“However, we do recognise that these are challenging economic times and this will impact our teams.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure colleague wellbeing, we are exploring a partnership with Wagestream, the financial wellbeing app, to offer extra support to our employees.”

In reaction to the news, Unite Hospitality has launched a petition​ calling on Fridays CEO Julie McEwan to reinstate staff meals.

“Fridays UK staff are low paid service sector workers facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis,” the petition reads.

“In the midst of this crisis, senior management of the company have taken the cynical step of removing fully subsidised staff meals.

“Staff are rightly angry and frustrated that they will have to sacrifice more of their income to feed themselves at work in order to satisfy the profit margins of company executives.”

Unite previously supported staff at Fridays back in 2018 when employees at two of the group’s restaurants in Milton Keynes and London's Covent Garden went on strike over what the union described at the time as a dispute regarding the company’s ‘refusal to address concerns over tips and minimum wage abuses’.

In a statement provided to Tribune​, Bryan Simpson, Unite’s national lead organiser for hospitality, said all legal and industrial options will be considered by the union in response to Fridays’s decision to axe free staff meals.

“For a multi-national restaurant chain to scrap free and subsidised food for their workers during a cost-of-living crisis is nothing but sheer corporate greed,” he added.

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