TIPPING: Low-paid staff at Cameron House win withheld tips fight

Cameron House Hotel

Exclusive Cameron House Hotel at Arden on Loch Lomondside. Top: Democrat editor Bill Heaney interviewing Clint Eastwood at Cameron House Hotel.

The Sunday Mail is reporting that about 200 employees at Cameron House on Loch Lomondside, will split £138,000 in backdated tip money after lobbying their bosses for months.

Low-paid staff working at one of Scotland’s top hotels have won their fight for more than £130,000 in withheld tips.

About 200 employees at Cameron House, which charges eye-watering prices for a bottle of wine, will split £138,000 in backdated tip money after lobbying their bosses for months.

Trade union reps from Unite Hospitality accused the hotel management of withholding workers’ tips and obscuring where the money was going or how it was being distributed after a 10 per cent service charge was introduced for customers in January.

The hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond, which is owned by an offshore company in the Cayman Islands tax haven, costs up to £1000 a night  to stay there.

It has hosted a range of VIPs including Barack Obama, Cameron Diaz, Bono, Clint Eastwood, Cher and Nicole Richie.

In January 2021, the venue was fined £500,000 for failings which led to a fire that claimed the lives of guests Richard Dyson and partner Simon Midgley just days before Christmas in 2017.

Cameron House on fire and partners Richard Dyson and Simon Midgley, who died there. 

When the site reopened, staff questioned why bosses were planning to keep all tips paid by card until the end of the year. They were also unhappy that the luxury resort was keeping 15 per cent of the service charge to pay all workers, not just the bar and waiting staff, a Christmas bonus but would not explain how the funds were being distributed.

After campaigning for their tips to be paid, they set up a committee with the help of Unite Hospitality and investigated how much was owed to staff since the new service charges were brought in at the start of the year. They discovered that £138,000 had been held back – 15 per cent of the total since January – and have now managed to get it paid out to hundreds of staff.

Workers are also set to receive a share of between £70,000 and £80,000 in tips from now on. Julie Nixon, a rep for Unite Hospitality and an assistant sommelier at Cameron House, said the extra cash made a huge difference to employees’ wage packets.

She said: “Our tips are important to us. They are the difference between being able to make ends meet on a low-wage job and not, between being able to afford transport home and not. We are delighted Cameron House have finally seen sense and facilitated the establishment of a democratically elected tips committee, which has determined the fair distribution of around £138,000 in backdated tips to the workers who earned them and £70,000-plus per month going forward.

“Fair tips legislation is sorely needed in our industry but, while it has long been promised, it’s never been delivered. Meantime, Unite members, workers like us, will continue to stand together to demand what we deserve.”

Zack Brotherton, 31, works as a sous chef at the resort and said the victory over tips had been “amazing” but workers were still wary.

He added: “I think staff are really pleased that this has been achieved but they’re worried in case something else happens. It’s been stressful – people are still angry that we’ve had to go through this and fight for what we were owed in the first place.

“With the current situation, those tips are a lifeline for some staff on the very lowest wages as it can be an extra £200-£300 a month.”

Bryan Simpson, Unite Hospitality organiser, welcomed the victory and said all staff across the hospitality sector should follow suit and demand they are given their fair share of tips.

He said: “While legislation to ensure every worker gets fair tips is necessary, our members at Cameron House have shown that hospitality workers can, and should, collectively demand fair tips now.”

A spokesman for Cameron House Resort told the Sunday Mail: “Cameron House has always distributed all service charges and gratuities to eligible staff.

“We’re delighted that, after a democratic vote, our valued team members have agreed a new distribution model with the primary modification being that the portion of these monies that historically had been paid annually will now be paid monthly.

“We are committed to always doing what is right and will continue to listen to our team members and continue to collaborate with them on making Cameron House truly exceptional.”

One comment

  1. Cameron House is typical of what land and property ownership in the National Park has become.

    A luxury hotel and grounds in one of the most iconic areas of Scotland, and owned, like so much else, by an offshore company in the tax haven Cayman Islands.

    But this grimly is the model of ownership that the Scottish Government supports.

    The addition of a service charge onto customers bills for it to then not be passed on to workers who earned it is outrageous. The Scottish government could and should have introduced legislation but don’t.

    And of course the fire that caused the loss of two young lives. That has never been addressed properly, and the fine of £500,000 was chicken feed. Grimly, the Scottish Government don’t want to know.

    Or the foreign ownership of the hotel and a large swathe of iconic Loch Lomond. Again the Scottish Government don’t want to know.

    Or the tax being avoided by offshore ownership. Again do the Scottish Government want to know.

    But the Scottish Government do take pride in the cleaning, and serving and other such jobs created in these elite establishments.

    More Tory than the Tories, one does, wonder in whose interest our Scottish Government acts.

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