TGI Fridays is facing its first ever strike ballots in the UK after trade union Unite announced that it will be balloting workers in two branches.

The American restaurant chain’s Milton Keynes and Covent Garden locations will be balloted from 18 April, due to alleged breaches over the company’s tip and tronc policy and minimum wage abuses.

Troncs are used to distribute card and service charge payments to staff through the company’s pay roll. Tips received through a tronc system are not liable for national insurance and also affect the calculation of statutory payments like maternity pay, pensions and redundancy.

In February, Unite accused TGI Fridays of diverting 40% of card tips paid to waiting staff to distribute among kitchen staff, instead of offering a pay rise in line with the national living wage, which rose by 4.4% to £7.83 p/h on 1 April.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “The ballot of TGI Fridays workers comes just days after workers at fast food giant, McDonalds decided to ballot for further industrial action at six stores, building on their historic strike last September.

“Standing up for your rights and challenging bad practice is hard when the threat of having your shifts cut or losing your job looms over you. It takes courage to fight back, which is why these TGI Fridays’ workers and the McStrikers deserve our respect.”

TGI Fridays has also come under fire for previously being named amongst hundreds of employers for underpaying staff. The restaurant chain failed to pay £59,347 to 2,302 workers.

Due to these breaches, Unite aims to ballot workers in two restaurants every week until 1 May, with a protest to be held outside TGIs Covent Garden branch tomorrow (13 April).

Turnbull added: “Our members are bravely fighting back against a system that forces workers to live on low pay and without income security.

“They have decided to ballot for strike action in a wave of rolling strike ballots over the coming months because their employer has refused to address their concerns on tips and other issues. Unite is proud to support them.

“Unite is urging TGI Fridays workers from across the UK to join the union. It’s not too late to have your say and demand better from your employer.”

TGI Fridays operates 83 branches across the UK and over 900 restaurants in more than 60 countries.