Hospitality workers accuse bosses of shocking abuse

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Workers across 13 different bars and restaurants in Glasgow and Dundee have accused owners of Macmerry300 and Abandon Ship ltd of “systematic mistreatment of staff”.

With support from Unite Hospitality, around 70% of staff members from 13 different venues ownded by Macmerry have issued a seven-page grievance letter to owners Richard Davies, Phil Donaldson, and AJ McMenemy. The complaints range from disregard for Covid protocols to bullying of staff.

Allegations in the grievance letter include the company neglecting to tell staff of potential close contacts with colleagues who had tested positive and that “staff who had received official close contact notifications were required to stay and finish their shift before isolating”.

Aside from health and safety, one of the most serious allegations is that the company fraudulently accounted for pension payments on pay slips without actually paying into workers pension plans. One Macmerry employee described this as “a company wide issue”.

 

Employees protest outside of Abandon Ship. Credit: Unite Hospitality.

Ross Campbell, an employee at Abandon Ship Glasgow, has detailed the allegations of a toxic workplace culture.

He says: “Sick pay hasn’t been paid. Holiday pay hasn’t been paid out to former staff, some were even threatened if they didn’t work their two weeks… Pensions haven’t been getting paid into despite being deducted from pay slips and we weren’t registered with HMRC for the first three months of Abandon Ship Glasgow.”

Macmerry originally started trading in Dundee but in the last two years has expanded into Glasgow by opening The Bull on Great Western Road, Abandon Ship in the City Centre and The Luchador in the South Side.

 

The Luchador on Pollockshaws Road. Part of the Macmerry group’s recent expansion into Glasgow. Credit: Ninian Wilson

Amongst several serious allegations, the grievance letter says: “While we recognise that the pandemic has been difficult on the hospitality industry, we believe this is insufficient justification for the treatment we have received from the company. It is no secret how much money has been invested in the Glasgow expansion in exchange for better employee treatment.”

Following the initial complaint, Phil Donaldson has been reluctant to engage with the worker’s collective and has said he will opt to deal with complaints on an ‘Individual basis’. According to sources, he has hired lawyers and a PR firm to handle the fall out.

Bryan Simpson, the Macmerry300 workers Unite Representative, says: “Despite originally agreeing to meet to discuss the serious issues raised by 70% of staff, the Director of Macmerry 300 – Phil Donaldson is now refusing to communicate and wants to go through lawyers rather than speak to his workers collectively. We would urge him and other directors to heed the requests of a majority of their staff and meet with the union which represents the workforce.”

Ross is still employed by Macmerry and holds out hope for a resolution by means of the group’s industrial action.

He says: “We aren’t the ones in charge but the restaurant doesn’t operate without us. So If we say that we’re not working until you give us better treatment the bar won’t operate. It’s not like we’re asking for much. Pay us correctly, pay us on time and don’t break the law, which seems to be incredibly difficult based on experience with past employers.”

However, Ross still feels that there’s still a long way to go for hospitality workers to receive better treatment across the sector.

He says: “There’s a lot of apathy towards this sort of thing. That’s before even considering that people are scared of losing their jobs, losing their hours, in regards to joining a union.”

 

Ross says many of the staff enjoy hospitality but mistreatment by management has ruined the experience. Credit: Better Than Zero

Bryan Simpson says: “Our members across Macmerry 300 and Abandon Ship Ltd have had enough of being treated like dirt by the owners of these bars. Throughout the pandemic they’ve had to sustain shocking health and safety breaches, failure to pay wages/holiday pay and systemic bullying.

“With over 70% of staff now calling for drastic change, we would urge the Directors to get round the table with Unite to negotiate before their reputation is damaged irreparably.”

Abandon Ship Glasgow have been contacted for comment.

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