The owners of a restaurant and bar at a Glasgow arts venue have strenuously denied claims workers were sacked for taking part in union-endorsed strike action.

A bitter row over pay and working conditions has led to Saramago at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) being closed since Tuesday.

The venue is run independently from the CCA, which has remained open.

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The dispute led to three staff being sacked on shift but the owners claim the situation had been "misrepresented" by the IWW union (Industrial Workers of the World) which is supporting staff.

In a full statement published on social media, the owners - Christopher Paul Smith and Claire Butler - claimed the action was not supported by the majority of workers. 

However, they said pay for the lowest paid staff would be increased to £10.90 from March 27 with an entitlement to 100% of tips.

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They said the disciplinary action was due to the conduct of a group of staff who took part in an "unannounced" work stoppage on March 3, in breach of their contract. 

They said: "No Saramago employee has been dismissed for being a member of a union, or for taking part in a union endorsed action.  

"The action occurred specifically because the owners and management had not responded to a letter from the group of employees within their proscribed 48-hour deadline. 

"At no point did this group of employees let the owners or managers know that there would be a consequence to them not responding within their deadline, and at no point did these employees declare any union membership or any potential for union action. 

"We feel that is entirely unreasonable to expect a meaningful investigation of work issues to be completed within 48 hours. 

"We also feel that it is entirely unreasonable for this group of employees to have taken an action that intentionally and willfully damaged the commercial trading and reputation of Saramago just because they hadn’t received a response to their letter within 48 hours."

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The owners said all staff were entitled to paid breaks, a meal on shift and a free taxi home on night shift.

Originally formed in 1905, the IWW describes itself as a "a revolutionary global union" that puts power back into the hands of workers.

It claims workers resorted to action in protest over staff shortages and it has urged the public and arts organisations to boycott Saramago.

A spokesman said: "The IWW Clydeside branch has reached out to the Saramago owners who have yet to come to the negotiation table. 

"We encourage them to do so, and they know how to get in contact with us."

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A spokesman for Unite said it was aware of the dispute but said no staff were affiliated to the union.

The owners of Saramago, which serves vegan food, claim the majority of staff are not affiliated to the IWW and added: "It is not a recognised union in the UK or affiliated with the TUC.  

"No TUC-affiliated union would endorse the action that took place as it breaks union strike guidelines."

"We have worked hard to enter into dialogue with staff over their concerns over the past months. 

"We have respectfully requested at various points that our staff engage with concerns through our company Grievance Policy.  

"We emphasized that this was necessary not just for good practice, but also to protect the mental health of the owners and managers at Saramago, who have been overwhelmed with anxiety as a result of the manner in which this group of employees have chosen to raise their concerns."

They said the financial situation of the business was now " perilous" following two fires on Sauchiehall Street and the pandemic.

A spokeswoman for the CCA said: "Fair working is an organisational priority for CCA, and we therefore express concern and are communicating directly with Saramago Cafe Bar, our programme partners and our own staff as developments unfold."