Staff have hit out at MacMerry 300 bosses following the response to serious allegations made against the pub company during a protest in Dundee.
Current and former employees attended a protest organised by Unite the Union on the Nethergate on Friday afternoon following complaints made against the chain last week.
The company, which owns venues in Dundee and Glasgow, is facing allegations including covering up a Covid-19 outbreak, bullying, pay problems, and failing to investigate sexual misconduct.
More than 50 current or former employees signed a letter addressed to directors of the firm, outlining the complaints.
MacMerry 300 runs popular venues Bird & Bear, Nola, Draffens, Blue Room, Franks, the King of Islington, and Abandon Ship in Dundee.
Prior to the protest, MacMerry director Phil Donaldson allegedly contacted staff to ask them not to take part in anything that could impact the business, warning he may have to permanently shut some bars in the city if the dispute continues, due to loss of trade.
Since allegations were made last Friday, MacMerry 300 has rejected all claims and says it is willing to discuss any genuine grievances or concerns.
Staff describe company response as ‘childish’
Current employees protesting on Friday said they were disappointed by the response from MacMerry 300 bosses since the allegations were made public.
Bird & Bear bartender Ewan McCallum, 23, described the company’s reaction over the last week as “childish”.
He said: “The last week has been really stressful, we didn’t expect such a backlash from the company.
“We thought they might have taken on what we had to say and I understand they’re annoyed about the press coverage, but we had already signed a grievance against them which was laughed off and nothing has changed since then.”
He added: “I want them to treat us like human beings.
“I want them to pay everyone that they’re due, I want them to investigate the allegations that have come forward, we want them to pay us a proper wage for what we’re expected to do.
“It’s basic stuff – you want to go to work you want to feel safe, you want to be rewarded for your labour which doesn’t feel like we are.”
‘I’m really angry’
Brittany Varney, a 23-year-old supervisor at Franks, believes staff should have a right to fight for their rights.
“I think they’re saying this protest is a threat against them, it’s not, it’s for hospitality as a whole,” she said.
“I think everybody has a right to fight against that and the fact they’re trying to discourage us from doing that is ridiculous to me, it makes me really angry.
“I don’t think they’ve handled it very well, I’m really angry at them trying to deny everything.”
‘None of us want to see the company go down’
She added: “There’s a lot of evidence against them and the fact they are just denying everything is infuriating.
“We’re asking for things that should have been fixed months ago and we’re asking for simple legal thing like contracts.
“None of us want to see the company go down, all of us love the company that we work for, we love the people that we work with, but if they’re not willing to fix these things then that’s their own fault.”
MacMerry 300 bosses are due to meet with Unite next week after director Mr Donaldson said in his latest statement that he is willing to meet staff and union representatives at “any time”.
Dundee staff ‘setting example’ for other hospitality workers
Draffens employee, Keetah Konstant, 22, said she hopes MacMerry 300 staff fighting for their rights in Dundee is “setting an example” to other hospitality workers.
“A lot of us care very much and we love working in these bars, we think they’re wonderful and I guess that makes it more heartbreaking that we don’t get treated right,” she said.
“I’m just really hoping that we do inspire this to happen because lots of industries have a union and I don’t understand why hospitality should be any different, I don’t understand why can’t have the same rights.
“I’m hoping that once we meet with the directors that we can meet some good outcomes and go from there and then hopefully after that point it makes everybody happy because that’s what we want.”
‘Come to the table’
Phil Donaldson, director of MacMerry300, said: “There is nothing we would like more than to be able to address the allegations levelled against us and to have the opportunity to take any positive action which may be required.
“We are willing to meet with staff and their union representatives any time, and have been making this point since the allegations were made a week ago.
“My plea to colleagues is to come to the table. Bring Unite Hospitality with you and let’s have a constructive discussion so we can move forwards together and get back to doing what we all do well.
“I spoke honestly however in saying this last week has been incredibly damaging to trade, following almost two years of disruption for the whole sector as a result of the pandemic.”
‘Very serious’ allegations
Dundee West MP Chris Law tweeted after the protest to say he has written to MacMerry 300 and Abandon Ship Ltd to “raise a number of grievances” brought to him over the last week.
I have written to MacMerry 300 and Abandon Ship Ltd to raise a number of grievances that have been brought to me over the last week. These allegations are very serious, and it is vital that staff can be heard and should face no repercussions for raising them. pic.twitter.com/u2JdITbcxa
— Chris Law MP (@ChrisLawSNP) January 14, 2022
The tweet continued: “These allegations are very serious, and it is vital that staff can be heard and should face no repercussions for raising them.”