Solly’s in Golders Green is something of an institution. Within London’s Jewish community it’s famous, and on the strength of its excellent food, it really does deserve to be. Yet today’s revelations in the Jewish Chronicle make it difficult for anybody with a vague sense of social justice to spend their money there.
JC journalist James Martin reports that waiters at Solly’s ‘just get tips and no salary, despite the fact that new legislation will require all staff to be paid a minimum wage.’ New legislation, soon to come into force, will indeed target restaurant that pay their staff less than the minimum wage, while making up the difference out of tips. Yet up until now, I was not aware of any restaurant that simply failed to pay a salary at all, prior to tips.
If you have ever eaten in Solly’s you will realise quite how obscene all of this is. While the food is good, it is also very expensive. Nonetheless, it always seems to be pretty near full. It does not, in other words, appear to be a business that would have much trouble paying decent wages.
The company, when asked about its wage arrangements, claimed that it was ‘a private matter for the company.’ Personally I think such rank exploitation is anything but a private matter, and have no intention of eating there until I am assured the bosses are paying a decent living wage. Meanwhile I hope and expect others will take the same position. According to another article in the JC, a discount card brought out this year by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), enables members of student Jewish societies to get discounts at Solly’s. I will be writing to the UJS today to ask them whether they will review their relationship with Solly’s in the light of these revelations, and what assurances they will seek regarding the fair treatment of workers.