Union row with Six by Nico deepens as Edinburgh workers become latest to allege mistreatment
Union has issued fresh call for action from Six by Nico over alleged mistreatment of staff, as workers in the capital are latest in a growing number of “horrendous reports”.
The restaurant firm is at the centre of a deepening row over fair pay and conditions for workers, after a head chef alleged he was sacked the day after he claimed hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime.
Unite’s hospitality branch, which is seeking a tribunal for the chef, told the Evening News they have heard from more than 40 staff across the country who have made a number of allegations about the firm, set up by chef Nico Simeone.
The company, which has restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh London, Manchester and Belfast, launched their successful Home By Nico service during lockdown and has sold 6000 boxes a week.
But a waitress at the Hanover Street restaurant who asked not to be named said: “I started working here last year and thought how lucky to get a job in pandemic. After 40 hour week I’d get paid for 25 hours. I was told it was just a mix up. I think they are taking advantage knowing people would find it hard to get other work. I complained about wages and working conditions like getting only a 5 minute break in a 12 to 14 hour shift, but got attacked verbally by management.”
A former worker said: “I worked long and intense shifts with little breaks. We got paid in cash for wage and tips. I believe the tips were paid to managers. On a weekend day taking over £200 in tips I would only get £10 of that. The staff turnover was huge, about 90 per cent different staff changed in a month. I’ve worked in many different bars and restaurants and have never been treated like I was when I was working at Six By Nico.”
One former assistant manager said they received no break in 16 hour shifts and that tips were used to pay senior managers.
Bryan Simpson, Industrial organiser for Unite, said: “We’ve been contacted by workers about underpayment of wages, 16 hour shifts without a break and misuse of furlough. These horrendous reports show that there are systemic issues with the way in which Six by Nico are treating their workers, morally and legally.
“We will meet the Head of HR soon to propose that the company adopt our Fair Hospitality Charter, including the real living wage, dependable contracts, 100% tips and a pro-active sexual harassment policy.”
A spokesperson for the Simeone Group said: “Over the past five years we’ve grown incredibly quickly and now employ over 500 talented and dedicated people.
“We’ve focused on giving customers the best possible dining experience while giving our people the chance to be part of a thriving, fast-paced and fun environment, which the vast majority have really embraced.
“In recent months, we’ve made significant investments in our administration functions, with a host of senior appointments in areas such as finance and HR, to make sure these areas reflect the high standards already enjoyed by our customers.
“If staff wish to bring any matters to our attention, we would investigate them and respond. Where any mistakes have been made, we will hold up our hands and rectify them.”