A group of 30 people took part in a protest at the Ivy restaurant in Dublin on Thursday evening over how the restaurant handles its waiters’ tips.
A row about how tips are handled developed at the high profile Dublin city centre eatery emerged last year after management accused some waiting staff of “deplorable greed” in asking customers to leave tips in cash rather than putting them on a debit or credit card.
A number of protestors who had booked tables in the restaurant on Thursday night began the protest.
They were then joined outside the restaurant by a group of 30 people led by Independent TD Joan Collins who held up placards stating “Stop tip theft”.
They chanted “cook your steak, eat your chips, give your staff their well-earned tips”.
Ms Collins said she was aware of other Dublin restaurants who have are engaging in similar practices when it comes to tips.
“The Ivy are abusing the good nature of diners who are tipping staff well because and they are not aware that management are taking some of their tips,” she said.
“Workers are hugely concerned as they are not earning a high hourly wage and they work hard for their tips only for a portion of it to go to the company,” she said.
“We are going to protest every week. We will not say what time or when but we will keep it up until staff get to take home all of their well earned tips,” she said.
The restaurant issued a statement on Friday pointing out that “100 per cent of credit card tips are shared amongst the entire 150 staff members members (excluding management)” and that waiters were encouraged to share any cash tips they received with other members of staff, excluding management.
The Dublin incarnation of the famous London restaurant opened on Dawson Street in July, amid much publicity and hype.
The row over tips emerged in November last year when a management notice to staff saying waiting staff were no longer allowed to handle payments was sent to the Liveline radio programme on RTÉ One this week.
The notice that was made public by a member of staff said due to the “continued inability of those taking card payments to follow procedures and consider the whole team here”, there was “no bonus payments for front of house members to share”.
The notice stated in bold type that “from Monday NO WAITERS will ever be allowed to take any payments from guests, there will be a password on the credit card machine and the managers will take all payments, without exception”.
The writer of the notice to staff expressed disappointment at the “continued bad manners our wonderful guests are shown by consistently being asked for cash,” and was most angered that “all the runners, bar backs, bartenders, cocktail waitresses who make waiter’s jobs possible have received nothing”.
The change in policy on card payments would “allow us to get our bonuses back for all front of house and will stop the deplorable greed being shown to guests by those who request cash”.
Management will give 75 per cent of cash left at the table to the waiter who managed the table and 25 per cent to the other front of house staff “as agreed, as it is also clear that this has not been happening either”, it added.
The Ivy’s statement added “A gratuity per hour is paid to every staff member in addition to their contractual hourly wage and is guaranteed by the company in that any shortfall, regardless of whether any tips are paid by patrons, will be made up by the company.
“All cash tips are kept by the individual waiter/waitress, although they are encouraged to share these tips with their colleagues. We believe that the credit card tips should be shared amongst the entire team (excluding management) reflecting everyone’s contribution to the service.”
New legislation or regulations to ensure that workers receive tips or gratuities paid by customers are not needed, the Low Pay Commission has advised the Government.
In a report published on Thursday the Commission said it did not believe that sufficient reliable data existed to prove that the issue of employers withholding employee tips was a significant problem in Ireland.
The Commission said it did not believe that legislation or regulation should be introduced in this area as the administrative and compliance costs involved would not be justified.