Staff at popular bar told they will 'no longer receive real living wage'

Workers' wages will be downgraded to the national minimum wage, a union has said.

Brel staff in Glasgow west end told they will ‘no longer receive living wage’ georgeclerk via iStock

Staff at a popular city bar have been told they will no longer receive the real living wage, a union has claimed.

Workers at Brel in the west end of Glasgow will reportedly have their pay cut as the business downgrades their wages to the national minimum wage instead.

Currently, the national minimum wage in the UK – outside of London – is £10.18 for those under 23 and £10.42 for those over 23.

The real living wage is £10.90 for everyone over the age of 18.

A spokesperson for Brel disputed the claims, made by Unite Hospitality, and said it was scrapping the real living wage to ensure the business remains sustainable.

They said that the average pay for the pub’s front-of-house team was £13.14 per hour between April and June this year.

Staff will also be given 100% of all service charge cash, which will result in more pay for staff, the spokesperson said.

Bryan Simpson, the lead organiser of the Unite Hospitality union, told STV News: “For such a profitable company to decide (with very little notice given to workers) to revoke their commitment to the real living wage is not just morally reprehensible, it may present a breach of contract and failure to consult with staff.

“On Wednesday we will be meeting with It Is On’s head of finance, in a last ditch attempt to resolve this dispute. We hope that he make the right decision to invest in the workers who actually make the profit, by overturning this decision and paying them the wages they need to live.”

A spokesperson for Brel said: “Factually incorrect information has been circulated online including wildly inflated profit figures and suggestions of pay cuts. We want to clarify with the facts.  

“The full front of house team at brel, regardless of age, were paid an average of £13.14 per hour between the period of April – June 2023, following a change in pay structure. 

“60% of our Brel team are under the age of 23 – and we opt to pay the same rate of pay, even though government guidelines would allow us to pay significantly less.  

“These figures represent a substantial increase on take-home at the same time last year and are higher than the current rate of Real Living Wage at £10.90. 

“As part of the change in pay structure, amidst well-documented cost increases across the supply chain, we elected to move away from the voluntary Real Living Wage in place of a more sustainable model. 

“Extensive planning and forecasting was undertaken before implementing the changes to secure the long-term future of the business, and jobs of our incredible team. 

“As part of this, we introduced a service charge, 100% of which is shared between the team. 

“This has resulted in a substantial increase in monthly take-home alongside an industry-leading benefits package. 

“As this is an ongoing grievance and we are committed to a fair appeal process, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.” 

Unite Hospitality has disputed some of these claims.

Speaking after their meeting with itison, Simpson said: “Following a productive appeal meeting with itison’s finance controller Neil Lockie we are confident that a clear and unequivocal case has been made (on behalf of 70% of staff in Unite) that the workers at Brel deserve the real living wage.

“What was completely unproductive however was the email and press statement issued by director Nicola Wilkinson, 30 minutes before our reps went into their meeting, in a deliberate attempt to mislead the public and undermine the collective position of her workforce at Brel.

“This email has caused widespread confusion among staff about their rate of pay and makes unfounded and inaccurate allegations about the union that represents the vast majority of workers.

“The amount of wage quoted by Nicola of £13.14 includes service charge and only £10.42 of that is paid by the company – the minimum wage.

“To claim that Unite has made ‘multiple inaccuracies’ regarding ‘wildly inflated profit’ is simply factually inaccurate.

“In our tweet, which has never been edited, we said ‘the parent company made £5.5m in 2021’, clearly referring to the turnover over Dada Events Ltd. This is factually correct and publicly available for everyone to see.

“We now need urgent reassurances from Oli Norman that the grievance process will be honoured and that the appeal decision has not been undermined by the ill-conceived and factually inaccurate statements of other directors.”

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