Harrods in Knightsbridge is Europe’s largest department store in London’s most exclusive retail/residential postcode. In 2010 it was sold to the Qatari royal family, who now own more of the capital city than the Crown Estate! All tastes and cravings are catered for in Harrods’ dozens of fancy bars, cafes, eateries and restaurants.
In late 2016, UVW learned of Harrods’ rules concerning service charges, which absurdly enabled the company to keep between 50-75% of all tips for itself. Once a group of chefs and waiters from various departments had joined the union, an immediate claim was submitted for 100% of tips to go to staff. This would represent around £5,000 of extra annual income for each of the 500 staff affected, or £2.5 million per year for the Emirs of Qatar. Naturally, the idea of sharing service tips among the service staff was rejected outright, and UVW began planning for protests and strikes.
On the first Saturday of 2017, with January sales in full swing up and down the Brompton Road, a demonstration descended upon the lush window displays and blocked traffic outside. A giant inflatable cube was draped with a banner reading “Stop Stealing Our Tips” while arrests were made of some of UVW’s supporters, one for a red smoke bomb. Armed with loud horns, cleaning mops, and one highly effective walking stick, UVW members were joined by hospitality staff and others, paralysing everything for several hours. Fearing more of the same, Harrods quickly announced that 100% of tips would be shared under an accountable system.
All chefs and waiters were able to keep 100% of their tips. Putting £5,000 back into the pockets of every worker!
Created a national debate which led to most other restaurants in the country stopping the once common practice of tip pinching!