An embattled Dundee pubs boss has urged employees to refrain from attending a protest on Friday and says it could be “the final nail” for his business.
MacMerry 300 director Phil Donaldson says he may have to permanently shut some of his bars in the city soon if the mass dispute continues.
A public protest by current and former employees, organised by Unite the union, is due to be held on Nethergate near the Steeple Church in Dundee on Friday afternoon.
And according to the union, Mr Donaldson has contacted staff to ask they do not take part in anything that “will be to the detriment of the way we trade”.
Fears for future of bars and restaurants
The company is facing allegations including covering up a Covid-19 outbreak, bullying, pay problems, and failing to investigate sexual misconduct.
It runs popular venues Bird & Bear, Nola, Draffens, Blue Room, Franks, the King of Islington, and Abandon Ship.
MacMerry 300 has rejected all the claims and says it is willing to discuss any genuine grievances or concerns.
In the message to staff, Mr Donaldson said: “Trade is now on the floor and this protest may be the final nail that pushes us into administration with permanent venue closures imminent.
“I think the size of and capability of our company has been sorely overestimated by Unite and union members.
“Given this vicious media campaign is happening after a two-year pandemic, with the addition of more current restrictions, we are going to struggle to meet our liabilities if trade doesn’t pick up in the next handful of days.
I will urge everyone to not participate in anything that will be to the detriment of the way we trade.”
“So again I will urge everyone to not participate in anything that will be to the detriment of the way we trade.”
Mr Donaldson went on to say that some former employees are encouraging the dispute and are “looking on with joy”, adding that they “do not care” if jobs are lost in the process.
He has further urged those who do take part to act with “respect” and consider the safety of others.
“Hopefully all this will be a thing of the past soon,” he added.
Unite say owner’s plea is ‘unforgiveable’
Bryan Simpson, from Unite Hospitality, has described the message from Mr Donaldson as a “new low”.
“Everyone has a legal right to peaceful assembly and to take part in peaceful protest,” he said.
“For Phil Donaldson to use his position as an employer to discourage his workers from taking part in a demonstration about trade union recognition is unforgivable.
“To threaten closures and peoples jobs is a new low for an employer which has shown itself as one of the least scrupulous in the country.”
Mr Donaldson has previously said that none of the claims aired publicly have “carried any details to allow us to investigate” and is adamant they would have been looked at if they had been raised with him directly.
Union accused of ‘deliberately public attack’
He also claims none of the grievances had previously been put to the company by either staff or Unite before he was first approached by The Courier.
On Thursday night, the pubs boss described the allegations as “worrying and sensationalist”.
He also says the move by Unite is a “deliberately public attack” which has been “hugely damaging” to his business.
However he claims that he does not blame staff, saying they have been “badly served” by the union.
Responding to the message sent to staff, a spokesperson for MacMerry300 said: “The irresponsibility of Unite Hospitality in levelling sensational claims and using personal insults against an individual or business before presenting a single fact, shred of evidence or providing opportunity to explore, beggars belief.
“We respect anyone’s right to join a union and to protest, but we are fighting for survival after two years of pandemic restrictions.
“The further, significant knock to trade through a week of incredibly damaging attack by Unite, with no opportunity provided to explore lurid allegations or to clear our name, threatens the very existence of the business.”