Monday, 1 October 2007

First there was the miners strike, then the waiters got uppity

waiters of the revolution
that's what we all look like...


Tips, it always comes back to tips. It's my Raison d'être. The reason why I ask you how you are when I really couldn't give a fiddlers fuck. The reason why I listen to your dull as dishwater stories about hill walking on your last holiday or some such banal shite. Tips are why I bust my hump to get you a table at half eight on a Saturday night when you show up without a reservation. Tips, tips, tips, tips, tips mmmmmmmmmtips.

I try to tell the new waiters not to "chase the tip", not to worry about the tip. If you do your job right the reward will follow. Newbies can get a bit cocky after their first couple of weeks and think everyday should be a winning visit to the casino. I've always believed that customers, like dogs, can smell a tip hungry waiter. They tend to drip desperation over the table, much like a second hand car salesman at the sight of customer with cash in their hand. If you chase the tip you are setting yourself up for a disappointing fall.

I tell the new waiters this, but I'm guilty of it too. I tend not to drip desperation, I drip actual sweat, on the customers. Honestly it was so warm at work on Friday night that the sweat was almost blinding me. No hair you see to soak up my perspiration. Aren't I painting a pretty picture!? But when more than half of your remuneration is made up by tips it's hard not to spend every waking moment on the floor thinking about tips. That anticipation creates the energy that keeps you working when you really cant be bothered, well that and the fact that you have bills to pay.

Anyway what I've been trying to explain in the last 3 paragraphs, if you hadn't twigged on already, is that tips are damn important. If you stiff me on my tip I will hold it against you and more importantly use it against you if you manage to make it into the restaurant again. I say "if" because waiters are like scorned lovers, we hold grudges and will come round and boil your bunny. I think I've made that point more than a few times. But it's not just the ever important customer who has an effect on tips, there are our almighty employers too! And that is the crux of today's offering....

My employers have a rather contradictory policy on tips, that is to say they have no actual policy on tips. They keep their noses out of our tip trough, which is just fine by me. Their attitude being, "If we don't know about them, we don't have to tell anyone about them." "Anyone" is of course the thieving taxman and/or woman. This is a tremendous state of affairs. But contradictory all the same as they use the fact that wait staff earn tips to put us on a lower pay scale than the bar staff. And that, ladies and gentlemen gets right up my nose. But that is a different story for a different day.

Not all restaurateurs take such an hands off view on their waiters tips. Quite the opposite in fact. Some nasty thieving scumbag restaurateurs have a very hands on approach to tips. It's as corrupt as it gets. Tips are being used to pay wages instead of being, as they were intended as, an addition to wages. They aren't actually dipping into the waiters pockets or going through their bags when they are out having a smoke, given the opportunity I'm sure some of them would. Instead, they are syphoning it at source at the cash register and credit card machine. Service charges and tips left on credit cards are essentially "filtered" by the sticky fingered bastards and instead of ending up in to a column marked TIPS they magically make their way to the column marked WAGES. It's a cunt trick and no mistake.

Well there'll be no more of these shenanigans! Well not in London anyway. The good waiters of London, and I'm sure a few bad ones too, decided enough was enough of this robbery and took to the streets in protest on Thursday last. Organised in association with the UNITE Union waiters picketed outside big name restaurants such as Pizza Express, Garfunkels, Deep Pan Pizza, and Frankie & Bennies at lunchtime. It's shameful that chains with multi million pound turnovers such as these have to steal from their own staff to pay the wages thus boosting their own profits. Cunts.

There is a sneaky loophole in the law that allows employers to steal tips left on credit cards and use them to bring wages up to the minimum level. That loophole needs to be closed pronto. Dave Turnbull, Unite regional industrial organiser, said:
"Many customers would be horrified if they knew their service charge went towards paying hard-working waiters and waitresses [I would expect better from a Union man] the minimum wage, rather than rewarding good service. Tips and service charges should always be considered an addition to a decent living wage. As well as urging a change in the minimum wage law that allows employers to take advantage, customers can also help by asking the restaurant where the tips go."
So to ensure that the wonderful waiter that made your night the success that it inevitably was try, were possible, to leave any tip in cash. If there is a service charge added to your bill ask if it goes to the wait staff, if not don't pay it but DO leave the equivalent, or more (cough cough), in cash. And always try and give the cash directly to the waiter that served you.

I heard a sorry tale recently regarding the waiters in one of Belfast's finer restaurants which is owned by one of our "celebrity" chefs. The managers had been slyly recording the tips made by the staff and for reasons that aren't clear to me shopped all the waiters to the tax people! Well fuck me with a calculator but that is just nasty beyond words. I wouldn't have wanted to be a customer that night. There would have been more than a few "mistakes" that night. Why would they do that? Why?

I'd love to go out on strike, well on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday that is. I'd lose too much money over a weekend. Solidarity though mid week.....

18 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Anonymous Boxer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous Boxer said...

"It's a cunt trick and no mistake."

A Poet! You're a Poet, I say.

Actually, all very appalling and I vow to overtip in cash from now on.

I also promise to spell properly and NOT delete any further comments.

savannah said...

having been wait staff many years ago, on a planet far, far away (also known as california) it's always been a cash tip and yes, my children do the same, sugar ;-)

Old Knudsen said...

Jesus H Christ that post was longer than my huge lad. Tipping being very important to us with waiting blogs even though waiters get paid so gurn up I must now post about it myself.

Power to the people that wait for stuff and thing.

Conan Drumm said...

I'm not surprised restauranteurs are exploitative and rank in the foulest ways, and especially with staff who don't know their rights. I will only ever tip in cash from now on. Can one give the waiter the 'service charge' element of the bill in cash and pay the rest by card?

Manuel said...

Anonymous Boxer: Oh hell yeah......

Savannah: You shall all go to a special place when you die, where the waiters work for free and there are 2 to every customer...

Old Knudsen: It was all built up from the weekend. Once I start I cant stop, like love making...sorry that was meant to say NOT like love making....

Conan Drumm: Hell yes sir, hell yes. He may also try and kiss you if you do....but this should be resisted...

Planet Me said...

Nobodt tips me for a job well done. Why should you get 'special' treatment?

That's the question I've never seen answered.

Manuel said...

Planet me: Cause I am a very special person. And what do you do? Maybe I would tip you if you did t well for me...unless of course you are a taxman.....

Sassy Sundry said...

That's infuriating! Oh, that makes me mad. I've always left cash tips after hearing from a waitstaff friend that tips were taxed, but to use them to make wages look fatter? That's criminal.

Go waiters! Go! Stick it to the man!

bendersbetterbrother said...

A former girlfriend was a waitress. She explained the whole "tips and Indian restaurants" thing, i.e. tips always go to the house. Same for Chinese restaurants too. Haven't found one that doesn't work that way and of course they're usually full of "cousins" helping out.

How widespread would you say the tips-to-the-house thing is in non ethnic restaurants?

Medbh said...

The celebrity chef's restaurant probably threw them the wait staff so they would stay away from the house's books.
I had an employer deduct taxes from my wages and tips and then she never actually paid them to the government, the bitch.

The solidarity in London is heart-warming.

bendersbetterbrother said...

That celeb chef who touted the waiters' tips...where would it Rank in your books?

Manuel said...

BBB: Spot on there mr bender

Manuel said...

Sassy: We'll bring the system down! or maybe not, very lazy us waiters....

BBB: Different restaurants have different systems. Some have overly complicated point systems were everybody including management gets a cut. Then there is our system were only wait staff and the KP get a cut. The company only handles credit card tips and those paid on accounts. These get put through on your wages as an extra and are taxed, which is liveable with.

Medbh: It was a very bad thing to do. I would have quit on the spot no question....

Conan Drumm said...

"..and rank in the.." Ahem, I was too subtle earlier?

Manuel said...

Conan Drumm: Too smooth for me, didn't catch it at all, then again I don't get Corrie half the time....

Anonymous said...
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