Bar staff sacked when the iconic 13th Note venue in Glasgow shut its doors have won an a claim for lost wages against their former employer.  

The group took action after being made redundant without consultation when the music bar shut its doors last summer.  

An industrial tribunal has now ruled that the workers were due three months ‘wages and ordered them to be paid – the maximum award available.  

The sudden closure of the music venue in July 2023 came just three days after workers took historic strike action amid a bitter dispute with the bar’s owner over working conditions.  

Those taking part were the first group of bar workers to strike in Scotland for over two decades. 

The Herald: Workers hope to reopen the bar Workers hope to reopen the bar (Image: NQ/Gordon Terris)

Issues raised by the 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. Unite members also raised concerns about health & safety while working at the venue, which were denied as being "categorically untrue" by the 13th Note’s owner, Jacqueline Fennessy.

The strike action was backed by a number of prominent musicians in Glasgow, including Paolo Nutini and Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai.

On the day the redundancies were announced, the owner of 13th Note was due to meet with Unite reps at the conciliation service ACAS to discuss a positive resolution to the dispute.  

The decision to close the venue was announced on July 19 2023 in a press release issued by Ms Fennessy, which directly blamed industrial action. 

“Every business encounters challenges," said Ms Fennessy, "but any issues raised were rectified quickly and the team treated with integrity, respect and an honest desire to make their working lives better. The statements of serious health and safety issues were simply not true. 

“With the business driven to insolvency by Unite Hospitality, it is time for the 13th Note to sadly close its doors for the last time.” 

With the support of the Unite union, the workers are now focussing on taking over the 13th Note lease from Glasgow City Council with a plan to reopen it.  

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite is pleased the workers at 13th Note have won their tribunal against their former employer after they were made redundant last year with absolutely no consultation. 

READ MORE: Staff aim to return venue to 'workers' hands'

“The ruling is a complete vindication for the workers who unionised in the face of shocking conditions which saw the venue shut by environmental health. As this case shows, Unite is unrelenting when it comes to defending our members’ interests and holding bad employers to account.”

Unite lead organiser for the hospitality sector, Bryan Simpson, added: “The successful tribunal claim of 13th Notes workers’ came after they were made redundant without notice, in what was one of the most shocking examples of trade union victimisation Glasgow has seen. 

“Let this serve as a warning to unscrupulous hospitality employers everywhere; your workers will win justice and Unite will have their back.” 

The Herald: Sharon Graham Sharon Graham (Image: PA)

Nick Troy, lead Unite rep at 13th Note said: “We unionised to win a fairer and safer workplace at 13th Note but our employer did everything it could to stop us, including closing our workplace. 

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“When it came to sacking us, the company didn’t even have the decency to inform us first - issuing a press release to the media before telling the workers that they had lost their jobs. 

“With justice served, we can now turn our focus onto taking the venue back into workers’ hands so that Glasgow has a unionised bar and music venue that pays and treats its workers with respect.” 

First opened on Glassford Street, the 13th Note moved to King Street in 1997 and expanded under former owners, opening a short-lived music and nightclub venue on Glasgow's Clyde Street. The group briefly entered receivership four years later in 2001 before a buy out a year later.

The last remaining 13th Note venue earned a reputation for its vegan menu and became closely linked to the Scottish indie scene, hosting shows from the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai and Teenage Fanclub.