Column: fair tips

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 31st August:

There’s an old saying that a week is a long time in politics.

But it is even longer if you’re a worker struggling at the margins of the economy – that week may be the gap between the bills being due and pay day arriving.

Even worse, there are those who don’t get the pay they’re due.

There are far too many ways that workers can still be exploited by those they work for.

One of the most blatant is when staff are left cash tips by customers as a bonus for good service – only for them to be swiped by the bosses instead, leaving both the workers and the consumers ripped off.

All too often this practice is quite legal, however immoral and dishonest.

Right now, the waiters and waitresses at TGI Fridays have been forced to go on strike as the only way to get the tips that customers gave believing that they would go to staff – unaware that a hefty slice is carved out by managers instead.

When the law doesn’t protect people, it is our job as MPs to change the law.

That is exactly what we’ve been trying to do for these workers who are losing out.

The government promised they would tackle the problem but so far their words have not been matched by action.

Sometimes change can take time but in this case, the excuses are wearing thin – because it is now more than two years since their consultation closed, yet Ministers still cannot tell us what they plan to actually do about it.

I recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to ask whether there was even a draft response to that consultation.

Incredibly, despite having two years to work on it, they haven’t even started writing one.

If a week is a long time in politics, two years is far too long to have nothing to show at the end of it.

Rogue bosses have no excuses, but nor does a government that lets them get away with it.

Serving staff should keep every penny they’ve earned – they’ve worked hard for it.

It’s time that Tory Ministers did the same.