Staff at a Glasgow cafe are withdrawing their labour over a "serious and imminent danger to health & safety".

Kitchen workers at the 13th Note say they do not have the proper equipment for a commercial kitchen, and have had to deal with issues such as the front wheels of a 180kg industrial fridge snapping, causing it to almost topple onto a worker, and the collapse of shelves onto the head of a chef.

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.

The Herald:

On Thursday the union announced that staff would be withdrawing from work due to “serious & imminent danger to health & safety” and invoking section 44 of the Employment Right Acts.

A Unite Hospitality spokesperson said: "Today our members in the 13th Note kitchen were forced to invoke section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, allowing them to withdraw their labour in the face of serious and immediate threats to their safety and well-being. 

"This was a result of faulty equipment finally breaking, falling on workers and which could have caused much more serious bodily harm to workers. 

Read More: Unions and activists hold sit-in and demonstration at 13th Note Cafe in Glasgow

"Issues of health and safety have been raised by our members since the initial collective grievance in March yet 3 months on they have had to make this decision due to Jacqueline Fennessy's inaction to rectify severe H&S issues. 

"This is about the safety of our members and the safety of customers. No person should be forced to leave their workplace due to serious and imminent danger in 2023. Our kitchen members will not be returning to work until the issue is resolved and their safety is guaranteed.

"The workers at 13th Note have reached the point that action such as this, protected under Section 44, has had to be taken. This is wholly unacceptable and could have been avoided if Jacqueline recognised the issues raised by the 13th Note workforce.

"Our members are prepared to escalate this dispute if Jacqueline Fennessy does not improve the state of the workplace as well as derisory pay & contracts and refusal to recognise Unite as the union representing 95% of workers."

Owner Jacqueline Fennessy said: "I understand the issue that sparked this action was a dislodged wheel from a fridge. It caused the fridge to lean slightly but at no point did it place anyone in danger. As soon as I was informed I advised the manager to tell the chefs to cease cooking for the service and to stay away from the fridge.

"Within ten minutes of being informed there were maintenance staff en route to resolve the issue. As the part was not immediately available they began anchoring the fridge by securing it to the floor with a steel joint. The 2 members of staff walked out at 5.20pm despite the work on the fridge being clearly ongoing and despite there being no danger to their safety. The fridge was secured to the floor within twenty minutes of the walk out.

"I would reiterate there are no staff at the 13th Note on zero hour contracts and all staff are being paid above the Living Wage regardless of age or experience.

"This action is clearly not about Health and Safety but forcing my arm to accept Unite as the sole representation of staff. I fully support staff’s right to join a union and have always made it clear that I have no issue with them doing so. However, I feel this action and the behaviour of certain union officials is excessive and unfair, especially given this is a small independent business.

"I have tried my utmost to meet demands and resolve this dispute."