Las Iguanas – stop pinching tips!

Las Iguanas – stop pinching tips!

Workers protest against unfair tipping policies

Workers protest against unfair tipping policies

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.


TUSC candidates sign 38 Degrees NHS pledge

TUSC candidates sign 38 Degrees NHS pledge 

22311_10206596664304612_3137552538299597924_n (1)

38 Degrees campaigners with election candidates including from TUSC

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates attended an event organised by the 38 Degrees campaign against the privatisation of the NHS. Despite Labour’s claim to oppose privatisation, no Labour candidates turned up – nor did any Tories, Lib Dems or UKIP.

The TUSC candidate for Foleshill, Jim Hensman, said “Labour thinks private companies in the NHS should be allowed to make 5% profit – that’s not good enough. TUSC would kick all private companies out of the NHS, and have a fully publicly owned National Health Service, free at the point of use.”

Despite TUSC’s support of 38 Degrees’ stance on a number of issues, including opposing TTIP and NHS privatisation, 38 Degrees have unfortunately refused to include TUSC on their “Vote Match” quiz which shows people which party they most agree with on some issues. This is particularly disappointing given the policies and campaigns of TUSC.

We applaud the work of 38 Degrees for the work they have done in raising awareness of a number of issues, and the local activists from 38 Degrees who work hard to promote some excellent causes, and we will continue to support this where we can. We urge 38 Degrees nationally to start including TUSC in their election campaign – after all, we are standing over 800 candidates in the local and general elections!

Want to help kick private companies out of the NHS? Fill in the form below to get involved!

Socialist candidates pledge to support Coventry libraries

Socialist candidates pledge to support Coventry libraries

TUSC candidates pledge to save Coventry libraries

TUSC candidates pledge to vote against cuts to Coventry libraries

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates attended an event organised by the Save Coventry Libraries campaign and pledged to vote against any reduction in library provision. Every local and general election candidate in the city was invited – but not a single candidate from Labour, the Lib Dems, the Tories or UKIP even turned up.

The candidates who signed the pledge included Sarah Smith, TUSC candidate for Woodlands, who organised a petition of almost 1500 people against the closure of Tile Hill Library. Local teacher Nicky Downes, one of the organisers of the campaign and the TUSC candidate for Coventry North East, said “It was great to have so much support from other TUSC candidates and from the public. It’s a shame our Labour candidates won’t do the same and stick up for our services.”

A letter has also been sent to Save Coventry Libraries supporting the pledge on behalf of all TUSC candidates. It reads, in part, “All TUSC candidates are happy to pledge to vote against library closures or any reduction in library services, and to vote against all cuts to public services. The people of Coventry rely on libraries and other services, and unlike our current Labour councillors we wouldn’t vote for any cuts.”

Do you want to support TUSC candidates? Fill in the form below and get involved!

Socialist candidate Nicky Downes opposes NHS patient fees

Socialist candidate Nicky Downes opposes NHS patient fees

Nicky with Lower Stoke TUSC candidate Rob McArdle

Nicky with Lower Stoke TUSC candidate Rob McArdle

Over the past few days our Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in Coventry have received dozens of emails through the 38 Degrees campaign regarding patients being charged for the use of the NHS and whether we would commit to keeping the NHS free at the point of use. Here is the response (slightly edited for publication) of Nicky Downes, TUSC candidate in Coventry North East.

‘Thank you for taking the time to get in touch with my campaign and good to hear from you again.

In answer to your question I am absolutely committed to keeping the NHS free at the point of use. For more background information I have added below a response taken from another enquiry regarding the NHS for more detail about the position of my party towards our health service.

Historically the NHS has been one of the most important gains made by working class people in Britain. We need a massive campaign to stop it being destroyed; which would leave workers in Britain facing the nightmare of a profit-driven US-style ‘Breaking Bad’ health service. If the Tories win the election they will accelerate the destruction of the NHS. Labour has said they will repeal the Tories Health and Social Care Act, but they have not pledged to reverse privatisation, much of which took place under Labour governments.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaigns for all the profiteers to be kicked out of the NHS. We demand an end to ‘ Profit From Illness’ (PFI) and for the massive debts it has created to be written off. We oppose all cuts, closures and job losses in the NHS.

We also go further, calling the expansion of the NHS with free and accessible dental care for all and the abolition of the prescription charges. We call for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacy chains and medical supply industry and integrate them into a democratically controlled NHS.

We demand a minimum of at least £10 per hour and a 35-hour week for all health workers.

We also campaign for a democratic socialist society where poverty – the biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill-health – could become a problem of the past.’

Agree with Nicky? Please fill in the form below to get involved in our campaign!

Dave Nellist outlines the Socialist response to the TTIP deal

Dave Nellist outlines the Socialist response to the TTIP deal

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Over recent days we have received dozens of emails from residents across Coventry regarding the TTIP deal. The emails were sent to all candidates that have announced they are standing in the General Election via the 38 Degrees campaign website. The Socialist Party welcomes the opportunity to state our position on this, and if you agree with our response please fill in the form at the bottom of the article. Remember nothing will change unless we get organised!

The email that was sent to us is below, followed by the response from Dave Nellist, and our other two parliamentary candidates, Judy Griffiths and Nicky Downes.

Dear Dave Nellist, Parvez Akhtar, and Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP,

As a candidate in my local constituency, I would like you to oppose the TTIP trade deal.

I’m really worried about the effect of TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Patnership) on further privatisation of our NHS and public services, as well as the inclusion of an ISDS clause which could allow corporations to sue governments. A document leaked last week showed that the NHS still isn’t exempt from the deal. You can read more about it here:

Please can you tell me what you will do to stop this deal and protect our public services?

Our response

Myself and my party are resolutely opposed to the TTIP trade deal for the very reasons outlined in your email. We believe it would further open up our public services (particularly the NHS) to be privatised and run in the interests of profit, not the public.

The way that TTIP has been devised is completely underhand and shows the undemocratic nature of the forces behind it. Little wonder they want to keep it behind closed doors given that it represents another attack on ordinary people and the services we rely on.

In an article in our weekly newspaper The Socialist we wrote:

‘Despite its alleged boost to economic growth, the TTIP would further deregulate finance, genetically modified organisms and fracking, and also harden copyright laws. But probably the most dangerous aspect of the TTIP is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

The European Commission defines ISDS as a system that “allows an investor to directly bring a claim against the authorities of the host country in front of an international tribunal”.

Corporations could bring claims against states whenever they feel that their business interests have been affected by national laws or policies.

It means, for example, that the Tories’ NHS privatisation agenda would be accelerated as US private healthcare companies demand access to run NHS services and be entitled to legally claim against a government if denied.’ (From The Socialist Issue 825, 17.09.14 – full article here

So we also think it represents an attack on our democratic rights, with multi-national corporations trumping the interests of ordinary people and voters. It is worth noting as well that my party has a very good record in Coventry on the issue of NHS privatisation unlike the Conservatives and Labour, both of whom supported the Private Finance Initiative at Walsgrave which has resulted in scandals like the rip off car parking charges. We would add that Labour do not oppose TTIP on principle, indeed in the neighbouring Coventry North East constituency their candidate has responded that they support TTIP albeit with some reservations and they do not even call for all public services to be exempt from the agreement. This really highlights the problem in that Labour only disagree on with the Tories on certain issues of detail, not fundamentals. They are not prepared to oppose TTIP in its entirety which is being created wholly in the interests of the big multi-national corporations to open up markets to the detriment of ordinary people.

What is stark about TTIP is that it reflects clearly what the current economic system is about – making profit at the expense of working people. So we resolutely oppose TTIP now, and would continue to do so if elected. I would also use the platform as an MP to help mobilise opposition to TTIP, both through raising awareness but also protests and demonstrations which can force change. I also believe TTIP is yet another example of how we need to change the type of society we live in, where people are put before profit so I will continue to campaign for a new socialist society.

If you would like any more information or have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or visit our websites at the bottom.

Yours Sincerely

Dave Nellist

Agree with Dave? Sign up here!

Dave Nellist outlines the socialist view on the HSBC tax evasion scandal


Dave Nellist outlines the socialist view on the HSBC tax evasion scandal

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Over recent days we have received dozens of emails from residents of the Coventry North West constituency regarding the HSBC tax evasion scandal. The emails were sent to all candidates that have announced they are standing in the General Election via the 38 Degrees campaign website. The Socialist Party welcomes the opportunity to state our position on this, and if you agree with our response please fill in the form at the bottom of the article. Remember nothing will change unless we get organised!

The email that was sent to us is below, followed by the response from Dave Nellist

Dear Dave Nellist, Parvez Akhtar, and Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP,

I’m concerned about the recent revelations that HSBC has been helping the super-rich dodge their tax, and that the government has not been acting to stop this.

As a prospective parliamentary candidate in my area, can you let me know what you pledge to do to crack down on tax dodging and prevent scandals like HSBC from happening again?

Response from Dave

It is an absolute disgrace that these individuals and companies have behaved in this way, whilst at the same time ordinary people in Coventry and across the country face austerity cuts that will see levels of public spending taking back to the 1930s.

We only have to pose the question that if these millionaires and billionaires had paid their taxes, how many of the cuts that are due to take place in Coventry could be avoided? For example our libraries, lollipop ladies, community and children’s centres which are all under threat to name just a few key services.

The rich have got away for this for far too long, little surprise perhaps when successive governments have been so friendly to big business at the expense of the majority of us. As we have seen there are a number of Tory donors who have been caught up in this, and of course Labour have come out recently and said they are “furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business”, so I do not think they can be trusted to act.

Linked to this is the ability to collect tax. In the last few years the government has axed between 38,000 and 40,000 jobs in Revenues and Customs as it carries out its swingeing cuts in the public sector. It has also closed tax offices meaning HMRC no longer has an network of local offices to provide advice and ensure tax compliance across the UK. How can any present or future government (Labour or Conservative) say they are serious about collecting tax and stopping the obscene tax avoidance if it sacks the very people who are able to collect it?

The Socialist Party, which is standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in this election, will support and demand measures that close all tax loopholes and tax havens.  We will fight for the rich to pay more tax and would support any measures such as a ‘Robin Hood / Tobin’ tax. We will also campaign for the cutbacks in Revenue and Customs to be reversed to enable tax dodgers to be pursued. We also think we do not have a progressive tax system in this country, which is something we would fight for.

However we think there are also wider issues here. 

I suspect the only thing that makes HSBC different, is that they got caught! The whole banking system is rotten, based on gambling and speculation. If I put £5 on a horse in the 3.30, and it came in last, you would not be expected to refund my gambling. But that’s what the banks have got away with. Unprecedented gambling and speculation which spectacularly crashed in 2008, and triggered the recession that so many ordinary people are still suffering from. The whole banking system needs reorganising and rationally planning. But you can’t plan what you don’t control, and you don’t control what you don’t own. Large amounts of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland are in public ownership, but not under democratic control. Nationalisation should be extended to the whole banking system and tight regulation then enforced in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.

Britain is not a poor country as this scandal illustrates. The problem is we have an economic system, backed up by the main establishment parties, which means vast wealth is concentrated at the very top. The key point is that the minority at the top own and control this wealth, whilst most of us struggle to get by. We think we need a radical change, whereby ownership and control of the main resources in society are put in the hands of ordinary people, and human need (such as the NHS, decent housing and free education) are put before private greed.

Thank you for contacting us and taking the time to read this response. I would encourage you to come to our election launch on Wednesday 25th February, 7.30pm at the Methodist Hall, bottom of Hertford Street where I and others will outline the socialist challenge in this election.

If you want to read more about our campaigns and policies please visit the websites at the bottom of this email, and if you would like to talk about the issues I have raised please call our campaign hotline on 07530 429441 or feel free to respond to this email.

Kind regards

Dave Nellist