JD Wetherspoon staff win ‘bumper’ pay rise after strike action

Staff at two pubs owned by bar group JD Wetherspoon say they’ve won a “bumper” 60p per hour pay rise for workers after going on strike earlier this year.

(Photo: Ian S/Georaph)

Staff at The Post and Telegraph and Bright Helm in Brighton, UK, planned a co-ordinated day of striking in October with TGI Fridays and McDonald’s workers, arguing that their jobs are “physically and emotionally exhausting” and deserved a Living Wage.

The minimum rate for bar staff over 18 started at £8.05 an hour, and £8.25 an hour for kitchen staff, according to the chain, both are raised by 10p after a probation period, which staff said left them struggling to make ends meet. The pubco’s staff demanded to be paid £10 per hour in accordance with the Living Wage.

The strike announcement came just weeks after the pub chain posted ‘record’ annual profits.

The pub giant had announced a pay rise for all staff in its most recent financial statement, which was planned to come into effect in early 2019.

But the strikers, who co-ordinated with the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said that Wetherspoon’s brought the pay rise forward to November following the announcement that staff would walk out.

“If two pubs in the company can create this much change, imagine what we will achieve as we grow,” shift leader Victoria Jordan said.

In addition to the 20p pay rise for staff across all of Wetherspoon’s branches, the Post and Telegraph was re-categorised within the JDW portfolio, earning staff at the Brighton branch an extra 40p per hour.

“On top of the company wide increase, we’ve won an additional 40p pay rise for all Brighton pubs, Elsie Bradley Middle, a bar associate at the Post and Telegraph said.

“If we can achieve that with just two Brighton pubs striking imagine what we can do when we continue to build and show our strength. This win is just the beginning.”

Chris Heppell, kitchen team leader at the Post and Telegraph said that by organising into a trade union the team “changed things we couldn’t have changed alone.”

“We’ve made the company listen to us and take action. We will keep building our union. We want every Wetherspoon’s worker in the country to be paid a wage we can thrive on. And to have a say in all of the decisions that affect our working lives.”

The union is still campaigning for staff to earn £10 per hour.

JD Wetherspoon declined to comment on the Brighton strikes, but a statement from pubco boss Tim Martin said: “Wetherspoon intends to increase pay in real terms in most years, subject to economic conditions, as we have tried to do in the past.

“Everyone in the pub and restaurant industry works very hard and the late and early hours are extremely demanding.

“The people who work in the business are our most valuable asset.

“It is understandable that there is pressure on pay with low unemployment and a housing shortage.

“However, bonuses, free shares and other benefits should be taken into account in assessing pay.

“It’s easy to be cynical about business , but companies like McDonalds, TGI Fridays and thousands of other individuals and businesses make a big contribution to the economy, and provide valuable work and experience for many people.”

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