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Staff from pub chain Antic stage pay protest outside head office's Christmas party

PUBLISHED: 14:00 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:11 20 December 2018

Protestors gathered in East Ham, to picket outside Antic's head office Christmas party at the Denmark Arms. Picture: Zain Miah

Protestors gathered in East Ham, to picket outside Antic's head office Christmas party at the Denmark Arms. Picture: Zain Miah

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Bar staff at pub chain Antic protested outside the chain's head office Christmas party in East Ham.

Antic has two pubs in Newham, the Forest Tavern in Forest Gate and the Denmark Arms. Picture: Zain MiahAntic has two pubs in Newham, the Forest Tavern in Forest Gate and the Denmark Arms. Picture: Zain Miah

Workers took their dispute, which concerns low pay and inadequate breaks, to the Denmark Arms in Barking Road last night.

The workers are paid £7.83 an hour, the legal minimum for over 25s, and are asking it to be raised to the London Living Wage of £10.55. They also claim they can’t take the breaks they’re entitled to because they’re short staffed, and they’re disputing a company claim that changing the wage structure could cost jobs.

Dave Turnbull, the regional officer for trade union Unite, said: “Antic workers are no longer willing to sit back and be overworked for poverty pay. “What these big chains are doing is exploitation, plain and simple, and it needs to stop.

“We’re urging Antic customers to back the workers by emailing the boss asking him to pay staff fairly over the busy Christmas period.”

Workers, along with trade union Unite, were protesting over low pay. Picture: Zain MiahWorkers, along with trade union Unite, were protesting over low pay. Picture: Zain Miah

Antic has 49 pubs across London, including the Denmark Arms in East Ham and the Forest Tavern in Forest Gate, and has five more in the pipeline.

More than 100 workers have submitted requests for double time while working on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, claiming the time and a half they’ve been offered isn’t enough.

Antic’s founder, Anthony Thomas, said: “On the point about breaks, we comply fully with the law and generally we provide more than the statutory requirement. We are generally at the fuller end of staff levels compared with competitors.

“All our bar staff start on minimum wage, thereafter our staff will see wages increase based upon merit. We are one of the few industries left where a lack of experience or qualifications is no barrier to rapid promotion.

Protestors gathered in East Ham, to picket outside Antic's head office Christmas party at the Denmark Arms. Picture: Zain MiahProtestors gathered in East Ham, to picket outside Antic's head office Christmas party at the Denmark Arms. Picture: Zain Miah

“We are looking at how we can sustainably increase our starting rate, however with wages being our biggest variable cost after stock, this can only really be achieved by either increasing sales or becoming more efficient, so our current pay pot is spread across a smaller staff number.

“If we were to pay double time over Christmas, staff who worked over Easter, Eid, or other bank holidays, would quite rightly wonder why their efforts were not similarly rewarded.”

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