Pay rise 'would not benefit employees', JD Wetherspoon chairman says

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Benefits lost fears: JDW chairman Tim Martin says a pay rise would be at the cost of other benefits (image: Ian S, Geograph)
Benefits lost fears: JDW chairman Tim Martin says a pay rise would be at the cost of other benefits (image: Ian S, Geograph)

Related tags: Wetherspoon

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said increasing pay and abolishing employees' benefits and shares would not be helpful to staff, as employees from two pubs take strike action today (Thursday 4 October).

Staff at two JD Wetherspoon pubs in Brighton will join a rally of fast-food workers in London by taking industrial action today. 

Employees agreed to strike in a bid for higher wages and union recognition in a unanimous vote​ last month.

Martin said the company was a big contributor to the economy and it would be detrimental to increase employees' basic rate of pay while abolishing benefits and shares.

Their pubco said it would increase​ pay rates further this financial year and bonuses, free shares and other benefits should be taken into account.

JDW announced it will boost its wages bill by £27m and it had increased it by £20m in the year ending July 2018. Workers called the rise insufficient and said they wanted staff of different ages to be paid the same rate. 

First strike

Staff at the Bright Helm and the Post & Telegraph in the Sussex seaside city are the first to take strike action in the pubco's four decades of operation.

Today, workers will attend a rally in London's Leicester Square to call for a £10-an-hour wage and will be joined by employees from TGI Fridays and McDonald's branches.

The rally was organised with the fast-food workers' campaign within the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which also organised McDonald's workers' unprecedented strike last year.

Martin added: “Everyone in the pub and restaurant industry works very hard and the late and early hours are extremely demanding.

"The people who work in the business are our most valuable asset. 

"It is understandable that there is pressure on pay with low unemployment and a housing shortage.

"I don't think it would benefit employees overall if, as some suggest, Wetherspoon ended bonuses, free shares and other benefits, and increased the basic rate of pay."

Employees have received £380m of bonuses and free shares under a free share scheme since 2004. A total of 13.7m shares have been awarded to employees, representing 13% of JDW's current share capital.

On duty staff can use a 50% food discount and use a 20% food and drink discount when off duty.

Economic contribution

Martin said: “It’s easy to be cynical about business, but companies like McDonald's, TGI Fridays and thousands of other individuals and businesses make a big contribution to the economy, and provide valuable work and experience for many people."

The pubco paid a total tax bill of £729m last year, which Martin said equated to an average of £825,000 of taxes per pub.

Matt Rouse, a kitchen worker at the Bright Helm said his team was excited to strike.

He said: "I’ve been inspired by my co-workers as we stand together to call out injustice in our workplaces. This is only the beginning, we will keep fighting for everyone, for better wages and rights for hospitality workers across the country." 

Gig-economy workers from companies including Deliveroo and Uber Eats have also been urged to strike today.

Related topics: JD Wetherspoon

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