Edinburgh restaurant staff say boss threatened to 'punish' them over unpaid wages

Police are probing a city centre restaurant as terrified staff allege they were threatened by their “powerful” boss after seeking payment of unpaid wages.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 7:00 am

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Two workers from popular city centre Chinese restaurant have filed formal complaints alleging a boss threatened them after they asked to be paid furlough money owed to them.

A chef at the restaurant, which employs more than 50 workers, said a boss told him he would torch his house ‘if he did anything stupid’. Another was so scared he fled to England.

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The heat of the kitchen, but staff say they are owed wages
The heat of the kitchen, but staff say they are owed wages

We spoke several workers from the restaurant who all claim that the company has not paid them for months – and intimidated them when they tried to seek payment.

Lang, a chef who has worked there for nearly four years said he has been paid no cash owed in six months. But his payslips – which have been seen by the Evening News – show furlough payments to owners of the restaurant to January.

The 49-year-old says a boss threatened to hurt his family when he asked for the money.

Lang said: “I was paid for a few months when furlough payments started. Since then I have not been given the money. The boss refused to pay me and told me I had to pay him, that he had done me a favour by paying my tax. He said I better not do anything stupid. He told me he knows people, could burn my house down and hurt my family. After that he texted me to ask for my address to post my payslips to. But I always got them by email, or in person at the restaurant. I’m terrified for my family.”

Staff they have received threats, which police are investigating

Richard, a part-time staff member who has worked there for two years said: “Since last July I've only been paid £400. The boss said they didn’t apply for furlough then he admitted they did get that money. Me and my wife are owed about £8000. But I was told if I kept bothering him, I’d be punished. The boss is part of a very powerful family.

“We want justice, that money is our only income. We can’t survive. After I got a one-off payment the company stopped paying my wife’s tax. So she can’t even get any help from benefits. And it’s not just us. But most people won’t ask, they are too scared.”

He added: “I left Edinburgh after last conversation with the boss. I said I would report it to the HMRC but he told me if I reported it to anyone he would make me pay. It was obviously a threat. He told me to shut my mouth. I was so scared. I went down south a few days to avoid any contact with him. I came back to report this to the police. Nobody else is helping us.”

The Unite union said the case was a “particularly shocking” example and that issues with misuse of furlough are “widespread”, as they have received complaints from workers at several well-known restaurants across the country.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "We can confirm that officers in Edinburgh have received reports regarding alleged offensive communications and enquiries into the matter are at an early stage."

The restaurant – which we have chosen not to name – was repeatedly contacted for comment on the allegations.

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