GMB Union condemns Tomahawk chain over staff bullying loan claims

GMB Union has slammed Tomahawk restaurants for 'bullying’ its low-paid, furloughed workers into lending them the money to pay employers National Insurance and pension contributions.

The steak house chain called a meeting for all staff – many of whom are on minimum wage - and asked them to borrow the money back from their pay packets.

In the zoom meeting, staff said they were told to ‘f**k off somewhere else if you don’t like it’ and if they didn’t sign the company ‘will review whether you are suitable for your role’.

Workers then received a letter, which included a loan agreement, saying ‘the company has a short-term cash flow issue and it now requires your help and support’ and 'we respectfully ask, in these difficult times, for you to support us by agreeing to pay your own Employer’s NIC/Pension Contributions by way of a voluntary 'loan' to the company, whilst we are in lockdown.

Neil Derrick, GMB Regional Secretary, said, “This is an outrageous abuse of the furlough scheme and a legal loophole that must be closed.

“It’s never been easier for businesses to access cheap money, yet Tomahawk is bullying its own young, low-paid staff to raise interest free cash.

“This callous behaviour will leave waiting staff, pot-washers and cooks short of cash and force them to take out interest rated loans to cover the shortfall or face losing their jobs.

“Tomahawk needs to take a long hard look at its behaviour – and this legal loophole must be closed before other companies follow suit.”

A spokesperson for Tomahawk said, 'At no point has Tomahawk Steakhouse suggested that members of staff would be sacked if they did not sign a loan agreement.'

As with the rest of this hospitality industry, they said they had faced a 'challenging year' but that the company's priority was to 'protect our people and our business.'

They said since putting the proposal forward 'every single employee chose to sign up to this agreement.'