Better than Zero hope to build on 2016 successes be leveraging victory over country’s largest hospitality company
THE BETTER THAN ZERO anti-exploitation campaign plans to use its victory in securing a new settlement for workers at Scotland’s largest hospitality firm to spread the gains to other firms in the industry.
The protest group’s 2017 strategy to crackdown on exploitative conditions in Scotland’s bars, clubs and restaurants will include plans to deploy an app that will help customers find living wage accredited employers, and to expand its direct action activities across Scotland.
The launchpad for the New Year offensive is a negotiated settlement in late December with G1 Group, whose precarious working conditions in many of their 40 plus venues inspired the founding of the campaign in 2015.
2016 in review: How grassroots action delivered the goods in Scotland
Concessions include promises by G1 that staff will no longer be required to pay for their uniforms or training, will receive a contract before they begin working and will no longer suffer the docking of pay for marginal lateness.
An end to zero hours contracts, which provide workers with no guaranteed income and a mechanism to defend staff tips were also among the measures agreed to by G1 Human Resources (HR) director Paul Bailey after he met with BtZ campaigners in the closing weeks of 2016.
Speaking to CommonSpace, BtZ organiser Bryan Simpson said: “Following 18 months of campaigning from Better than Zero, G1’s HR director has agreed a series of changes in employment practice which will see a complete abandonment of zero hours contracts and a tronc system which will ensure 100 per cent of tips are kept by staff.
Better than Zero Organisers with Scottish Trade Union Congress Dave Moxham at the Glasgow HQ of G1 group in December 2016
“As the biggest hospitality firm in Scotland G1’s change of heart sets an important precedent within an industry which relies on the exploitation of barworkers, waiting staff, cooks and cleaners. Provided the changes are fully implemented, we can use G1 as a positive employer with which to put pressure on other employers who refuse to follow suit.”
Simpson added that plans to work alongside the Living Wage Foundation to create and promote an app helping sympathetic customers support living wage employers and the launching of new initiatives into Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire, Aberdeen, Stirling and Dundee would unfold “in the coming months”.
The victory over G1 comes after successive targeting of its flagship Glasgow enterprises, and almost a year and a half since the campaign first launched outside a G1 bar, The Loft, in the West End’s fashionable Ashton Lane.
“As the biggest hospitality firm in Scotland G1’s change of heart sets an important precedent within an industry which relies on the exploitation of workers.” Bryan Simpson
The negotiated concessions represent the biggest success yet for BtZ, and may, due to the scale of G1’s influence in the hospitality sector, indicate a move away from the exploitative work practices widespread in the booming industry.
BtZ has agreed to end its direct action campaign against G1 for three months during the implementation of changes, and they ask that G1 employees contact them in the event that the promised changes do not come into force.
In the meantime the campaign intends to extend its direct action campaign to more hospitality employers, using G1 as a template for reform.
Workers concerned about their employment conditions can contact BtZ confidentially on 0141 566 6875.
CommonSpace contacted G1 group for comment, but they had not responded by time of publication.
Pictures courtesy of Better than Zero, Suki Sangha
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