Staff at a Dundee bar at the centre of Covid-19 cover-up claims have been told to return to work this week following a sudden closure.
The King of Islington pub shut on Saturday with upper management blaming “massively reduced trade levels” due to the “promotion of unsubstantiated claims” in a union-backed grievance letter from staff.
Kieron Kelleher, assistant manager at the Union Street venue, accused pub chain operators Macmerry300 of victimising staff who spoke out.
The brand is responsible for Abandon Ship, Bird & Bear, Nola, Draffens, the King of Islington, the Blue Room, and Franks, as well as venues in Glasgow.
The letter, signed by more than 50 Macmerry employees, cited 60 complaints alleging staff were “expected or felt pressured” into working shifts while experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, awaiting PCR results, and after coming into close contact with a coronavirus case.
It also included accusations of sexual misconduct cover-up, health and safety issues, as well as issues with paying staff.
The King of Islington closed the day after Macmerry300 received the complaint.
Now, hospitality bosses have confirmed the award-winning rum bar will reopen on Wednesday.
Macmerry has rejected all claims in Unite the Union’s grievance letter and said it is willing to discuss any genuine grievances or concerns.
Union claims ‘trade union victimisation’
Unite said the decision to close the venue could be seen as trade union victimisation and threatened legal action.
A union spokesperson said all of the King of Islington workers are unionised and signed the mass grievance.
Staff received an email on Monday afternoon confirming the venue would reopen.
Kieron, who previously raised fears the closure could threaten his job, has been asked to return to work on Wednesday afternoon.
When asked to confirm the venue’s reopening, operations manager Phil Donaldson told the Courier: “That’s correct.
“We are hoping now the media frenzy and false representation online has settled down we can resume some form of regular trade again.”
He then asked: “Do you have an issue with us opening our venue for business?”
Unite is now pushing to meet with the firm following the grievance letter, which alleged a failure to deal with sexual misconduct, numerous health and safety issues, and issues with paying staff.
Bryan Simpson, the hospitality organiser for Unite, said: “We are pleased that Macmerry directors have seen sense and will be reopening the King of Islington.
“To close the highest density Unite workplace would have been blatant trade union victimisation.
“We hope that Mr Donaldson and others will now be more open to meeting us next week to discuss the contents of the grievance with an aim to coming to a resolution for their workforce.”
Unite also confirmed that they will be seeking “compensation and a full apology” following the closure.