A demonstration has taken place at the 13th Note cafe in Glasgow amid an ongoing dispute with staff over health and safety and contracts.

A collective grievance motion which Unite Hospitality claim has been signed by 90 per cent of staff was handed to the venue's owners in March.

Issues raised by the 13th Note workers included zero hour contracts, which offer little stability and see hours fluctuate week to week; staff under 23 and under 21 being paid lower rates for the same work; and kitchen staff being expected to work 12 hour shifts.

On Friday members of Unite Hospitality and other activists gathered at 13th note for a sit-in and demonstration in support of the workers.

HeraldScotland: Demo by staff and Unite union at 13thNote in Glasgow's King Street

Holding banners and placards, they chanted slogans such as "you might think it's all bravado, we won't eat your avocado" in reference to the vegan menu offered by the cafe.

Only a few tables were seated at the time, with many leaving in solidarity with the action.

Cat Lee, Unite Hospitality organiser said: "Today we had a group of 30 workers from all over Glasgow and people who wanted to support the 13th Note Workers in the current dispute.

“The reason so many people came down today is that Jacqueline Fennessy, the owner of 13th Note, has told Unite and the workers that she will not negotiate on the terms and conditions which are poor and were raised in a collective grievance.

“She is refusing to recognise Unite, which is the union which represents 95% of the workforce. The collective grievance was submitted to Jacqueline 11 weeks ago and the workers have no better conditions at all."

Unite members have also raised concerns about health & safety while working at the venue.


Ms Lee continued: "There are real security issues, they have asked for security to be put in place. The people in the gig venue are in difficult situations, they’re left on their own and do not feel safe.

“The staff in the actual bar and restaurant have even this week dealt with really difficult and dangerous situations. It’s not safe for them to intervene, that was in the initial grievance and Jacqueline hasn’t recognised the need for any extra security so the staff are still in danger.

“There are massive health and safety issues in the kitchen that haven’t been fixed, no improvements around health and safety have been implemented, there’s still no ventilation in the kitchen for the workers in there."

Owner Jacqueline Fennessy told The Herald it was "categorically untrue" that there were health & safety issues at 13th Note, and that "all staff are paid above minimum wage and industry standard".

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She added: "I have taken the grievance lodged by staff very seriously and have participated fully in any negotiations proposed.

"It is a small independent business and simply not economically viable to meet every demand made by the union.

"Since I was made aware of this grievance, I have done everything in my power to address my staff's concerns.

"I have the utmost respect for my staff, and would never treat them with contempt."

HeraldScotland: A protest takes place at 13th Note in GlasgowA protest takes place at 13th Note in Glasgow (Image: Gordon Terris)

Ms Fennessy further said that all staff had been issued with contracts, with the guaranteed hours they requested and with increased rates of pay.

Unite Hospitality denied this was the case.

Ms Lee said: "She has individually sent some members some contracts, which don’t have the correct hours on them or the correct roles or the rates that the workers are putting forward.

“I was in the negotiation that we had on the 25th of April when we mentioned that the baseline for all workers should be the real living wage. The response to that was: no.

“She isn’t recognising Unite and sent an email saying she has no intention of doing so.

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"She has not done everything in her power because the workers have laid out the demands and the issues and they’re not being met.

“We still haven’t had an appeal from the grievance and it was submitted 11 weeks ago, we’ve put in the reasons for the appeal and that was the thread she responded to saying she would not recognise Unite.

“We’re taking that as she has no intention of hearing the appeal and changing the things that are still problematic within the workplace.”

Bryan Simpson, Unite Hospitality organiser said: "It is now 11 weeks since our members (representing 90% of all staff) lodged a collective grievance with evidence of a litany of issues. 

"Many of these issues remain unresolved and the employer is refusing to negotiate over pay and contracts which have still not been issued properly. 

"Our members are now voting in a workplace consultative ballot with the following question: 'Are you prepared to escalate this dispute & take legal and industrial action if pay, contracts and conditions are not improved?'

"We need Jacqueline Fennessy to stop treating her workers with contempt and to negotiate.”

Ms Lee added: "The workers of 13th Note are also escalating this dispute, they’re in the process of a consultative ballot to take legal and industrial action.

“They’re pushing forward with the dispute on their side and the network of solidarity that attended today has made it very clear we will escalate these kind of disruptions and look at how we can affect the profits of 13th Note until Jacqueline sits down with the workers and negotiates in good faith.”