Music venue 'forced' to close after 'first Scots bar strike in 20 years'

A total of 18 staff members will lose their jobs due to the closure following a walkout in a dispute over safety concerns.

Glasgow music venue 13th Note ‘forced’ to close after ‘first Scots bar strike in 20 years’ by Unite Google Maps

A Glasgow bar and music venue at the centre of a dispute with staff members over safety concerns has announced it will close permanently after more than two decades.

The 13th Note announced on Wednesday that it had been “forced” to close its doors and appoint liquidators.

A total of 18 staff members will lose their jobs due to the closure after its owner, Jacqueline Fennessy, claimed union Unite had “sabotaged” the business.

Earlier this month staff members voted to take strike action in demands for “drastic improvements” to health and safety measures at the venue, and to secure better wages.

Workers staged a walk out from Friday July 14 to Sunday July 16, in what Unite the union said was the first bar workers’ strike across the UK in over 20 years.

There had been plans to take action every weekend until August 6.

In a statement, she said: “It is with deep sadness that today we have been forced to close the doors of the 13th Note and appoint liquidators following operating the venue successfully for 21 years.

“Over more than two decades, we’ve played host to thousands of bands, performers, promoters and artists, while playing a significant role in the vibrant cultural scene of Glasgow.

“I’m devastated with the closure of a business I’ve cherished and loved along with the hundreds of loyal customers who frequented the Note, and I would like to thank everyone who has played a role in creating what was a vibrant Glasgow institution. It has been an honour to have been a part of your lives.”

She said “inflationary pressures and post-lockdown challenges” had been challenges for the business, but blamed Unite Hospitality for the closure.

“It has been the involvement of Unite Hospitality that has caused a drastic reduction in revenue that has forced our closure and the loss of all jobs at the 13th Note,” Ms Fennessy said, “To my team, I tried my very best to resolve all the issues we (and other hospitality businesses) face.Thank you all sincerely for all your work and efforts over the years.”

She claimed that Unite had subjected the bar to a “repeated onslaught on social media and the wider press with false and misleading stories that have been published unchecked” which led to revenue decline.

Ms Fennessy added: “Despite direct talks with Unite Hospitality about the 13th Note being in crisis and all jobs being at risk as recently as July 5, they continued publishing untruths and went ahead with strike action which has fully depleted all available funds in the business. “Sadly all 18 team members will be losing their jobs today.

She claimed she has “faced direct threats and verbal assaults” from Unite Hospitality’s representative and “dealt with a level of dishonesty and bullying” she said she had never encountered in 21 years.

“Why an organisation designed to protect the welfare of hospitality employees would choose to sabotage its own members’ jobs with full knowledge of the impact their action would have, I will never know,” she added, “Every business encounters challenges, but any issues raised were rectified quickly and the team treated with integrity, respect and an honest desire to make their working lives better. The statements of serious health and safety issues were simply not true.

“With the business driven to insolvency by Unite Hospitality, it is time for the 13th Note to sadly close its doors for the last time.”

Unite Hospitality hit back stating that Ms Fennessy “briefed the press” before she told union members of the closure.

On Twitter, Unite Hospitality said: “The owner of @13thnotecafe has closed the venue with immediate effect informing workers that they would get a weeks wages. 

“This is despite Ms Fennessy committing to pausing any redundancy until we met with ACAS today to resolve. This is trade union intimidation.

“To give a gauge of how pernicious this employer is, she briefed the press before she even told some of our members (or their union) that their workplace was closing. 

“She is trying to blame her own workers for closing a venue when she denied them the most basic workers rights.”

Responding to the closure announcement, Bryan Simpson, lead for Unite Hospitality, said: “To close a workplace and sack more than 20 people is both trade union intimidation and with only one week of wages and less than 30 days’ notice is also unlawful – plain and simple.

“Unite had a firm commitment to meet with ACAS, a meeting which the owner called for, and promises that redundancies would be paused. Then, without even speaking with the staff, the owner has reneged on this and went to the media with a sob story whilst leaving her workers high and dry.

“The employer didn’t have the decency to tell some of their workers that they are being made redundant before she briefed to press with a smear campaign, aimed to discredit those who have made her profits over the years.

“It was the workers who made this venue, and we will do everything we can to ensure that this continues.”

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