‘Insulting’: Unpaid workers slam Scottish Sun ‘theft’ article

26/11/2018
Ben Wray

Unite Hospitality workers demand over £3000 in holiday money

WORKERS demanding over £3000 in holiday pay have hit out at media coverage which they say implies they are thieves.

An article in the Scottish Sun covering an industrial dispute at LIQR bar in Glasgow conflates the demands of former employees at the bar with a theft of money and possibly stock in October this year.

It reads: “Police are investigating claims of theft at Brian Matthews’ new bar in Glasgow – as former staff alleged they are owed thousands in unpaid holidays by previous owners.

“Unite Hospitality took to social media last week to announce that their members at LIQR in the city centre claimed they were due £3,107 from their ex employer.

“And a collective demand for the money they were owed was submitted to the bar.

“Former Glow star Matthews is now part owner of the venue.

“A spokesman for the former reality TV favourite said that the current issue with staff is with previous owners.

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“And having spoken with those owners, he confirmed to the Scottish Sun that a police investigation was underway.”

However according to the Unite Hospitality union representing the staff, none of the workers involved in the dispute over money are under investigation.

Speaking to CommonSpace, Unite Hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson said they had refused to co-operate with the piece due to its history of anti-union reporting.

“It’s typical of an anti-worker paper like The Sun to pull a stunt like this,” Simpson said. “They approached us for comment about the fact that our members are owed £3107 in unpaid holiday pay and rather than focus on that, they have implied that this is connected to a theft in the venue – something that our members have nothing to do with and weren’t even aware of. They have chosen to adopt this narrative because we refused to cooperate with their paper.”

Following a change of management, the workers are pursuing the ongoing business for what they claim is £3107 in unpaid holiday money.
 
Speaking to CommonSpace, one of the workers, who preferred to speak anonymously, said: “It is insulting to us that, in attempting to claim what we are rightfully owed through the hard work that we carried out for LIQR, The Sun seem to be attempting to confuse our action with an unrelated theft.

“None of the workers involved in the dispute have been accused of theft. These two separate issues should not be conflated.

“We are simply seeking the payment of our unpaid holiday pay, up to a sum of £3107. The only criminal activity that is currently being undertaken from our point of view is the theft of our pay.”

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The union also claimed, in addition to the apparent conflation of the two distinct issues of the October theft and ongoing dispute over pay, that the article had initially published Simpson’s contact information with a screenshot of an email. This was confirmed to CommonSpace by a Sun spokesperson. The contact details were later taken down from the article.

The dispute at LIQR is part of a Scottish, UK and European movement of new industrial organisation and struggles by workers in the service and hospitality sectors, which have traditionally suffered a low level of workplace organisation.

A Sun spoesperson said: “We don’t accept that the stories are conflated, and nor would anybody giving the article a fair reading. When notified that Mr. Simpson’s contact details had been accidentally published, we immediately removed the image.”

Police Scotland confirmed to CommonSpace that the investigation into the unrelated theft was still ongoing.

A staff member at LIQR said the dispute was between former management and employees.

 

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