Las Iguanas – stop pinching tips!
By Jordan Jefferies
Las Iguanas, a Latin American restaurant chain which has recently opened a branch in Coventry, has become the centre of an ongoing dispute over tipping policies. This dispute comes off the back of the restaurant chain increasing its turnover to £48.3million in 2014, compared with £40.9million in the previous financial year.
Las Iguanas implements a tipping policy whereby table staff are required to pay their employers three percent of the table sales they generate per shift. This means that if a waiter serves £150 worth of food but fails to receive £4.50 in tips, they will then be forced to pay the money out of their wage. Even on George Osborne’s so-called “living wage” (assuming you are over 25), this opens up the possibility of staff losing over half an hour’s pay per shift! In London the percentage rises further to 4.4%, another sign of the Conservatives London-centric economy.
The justification Las Iguanas offered when questioned about their tipping policy was that it allowed kitchen workers and the front of house team to share the tips more equitably. However this excuse makes less sense than the overcomplex tipping policy. No clear explanation as to how the policy practically ensures tips are shared equally was offered.
Las Iguanas isn’t the only company that has dubious tipping policies, with many big chain companies deducting a percentage of the tip for “admin costs”. For example, until recently Pizza Express deducted a massive 8% of any credit card tip. According to the Unite union, this meant the company pocketed £1million per year. After a successful campaign by staff put pressure on Pizza Express, they’ve backed down – but companies like Giraffe and Cafe Rouge still take 10% of all the tips collected.
What’s clear is that waiting staff are being put under pressure by big chains; not content with underpaying their staff, they also want a cut of the tips they earn. A wage dictated by the generosity of the person you’re serving isn’t appropriate in the 21st century, especially when a company won’t even let you have that. That’s why it’s important to increase the minimum wage – we demand a wage of £10 an hour now and an end to exploitative zero-hour contracts to give all workers stability and a wage they can live on.