A petition protesting the sacking of employees from the G1 Group-owned Grosvenor Cinema and Café and The Lane on Ashton Lane has gained significant public attention and support, amassing just under 5,000 signatures to date and provoking a motion within the Scottish Parliament. The petition was started by Better than Zero, a nationwide campaign group working to end poverty pay and zero hours contracts. It calls for the reinstatement of ten staff members fired on 30 August, termed the “Grosvenor 10”, who, it states, “were unfairly and disproportionately dismissed for using the staff discount scheme to purchase food.”
According to the petition, the amount of money saved by staff through using discounts ranged from £1.89 to £30. The G1 Group is the largest hospitality firm in Scotland, making £66.6 million in revenue in the last year. They own over 50 venues in total and dozens in Glasgow alone, including Arta, Kushion, and the Polo Lounge, as well as the Grosvenor Cinema and Café and The Lane. They have previously come under fire from Better than Zero for failures to pay the minimum wage, deducting uniform and training costs of up to £170 from some workers’ wages.
Published on Friday 1 September, the petition garnered almost 2,500 signatures within the first two days alone, and currently has over 11,500. A protest was also staged outside the venue on the 2 September, and Better than Zero have promised to be outside G1 venues every week until all staff members are reinstated.
G1 have since issued a statement in response to the campaign, dismissing the accusations against them as “erroneous and false”, and criticising the “misleading publicity claims” of Better than Zero and their supporters: “It is not the case that action has been taken because staff have used a legitimate discount scheme to purchase food, as has been incorrectly alleged. A detailed investigation has been carried out and has established that these employees had added further discounts which, in some cases, negated the entire bill. G1 Group hold a robust trail of evidence and statements to support this chain of events.
“As per the company’s Discipline and Grievance Procedure, such allegations are potentially considered gross misconduct as they can amount to a fundamental breach of trust undermining the employment relationship. G1 would take the opportunity to state that, although levels and frequency of misuse varied from person to person, we are acting not on the monetary value of our loss, but on the breach of trust which has occurred.”
G1 have further condemned the actions of campaigners, referring to “threatening and abusive” treatment of employees both on social media and in person, and claiming that they had to call the police to the protest on 2 September after physical harassment of customers and employees alike. This account has been denied by Better than Zero, who assert that police were already present on their arrival and that “the protest remained entirely peaceful throughout.”
Talking to the Evening Times, a spokeswoman for Police Scotland confirmed their presence at the venue, but also denied that any formal action was taken: “Police were called two times to attend to around 20 protesters outside the venue on Saturday evening. Nothing got out of hand, no arrests were made, and no official complaint was made. Advice and assistance was given to all parties present.”
As well as calling on them to sign the petition and attend protests, Better than Zero have further encouraged supporters to take an active stand against G1 “as punters”, by writing to senior managers and posting on their social media “to let them know that [they] will not be setting in their venues until they reinstate the Grosvenor 10.” The campaign has also reached the Scottish Parliament. A motion put forward by Scottish Green Party co-Convener Patrick Harvie on 5 September attracted cross-party support, including that of former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
At present, the disciplinary and appeals process remains ongoing, with staff being represented by Unite the Union’s Fair Hospitality branch. If appeals are not upheld, employees can then take legal recourse against the company.
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