Only a minority of the generous tips left for chefs and waiters in luxury restaurants of Harrods emporium were going to staff


THE crime scene

Harrods ("of 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.

The campaign

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.

a massive mobilisation halts trade & traffic

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, 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.

Special thanks to Ian Bone, and Simon Elmer from Architects For Social Housing

Relive the Harrods campaign in multimedia!

This campaign was reported in the Guardian (2nd + 7th + 20th January 2017), Daily Mirror (7th January 2017) and Independent (8th January 2017)