A CHEF says he and a colleague were forced to walk out of the kitchen of a Glasgow bar amid fears they could be seriously hurt.

Nick Troy told how the front wheel on a 180kg industrial fridge snapped after a shelf collapsed and tumbled from a wall at the 13th Note in King Street.

Staff say the incident was the final straw after raising concerns about working conditions through a collective grievance submitted in March.

Unite announced that the members of staff would be withdrawing their labour due to ‘a serious and imminent danger to health and safety’ which prompted them to invoke Section 44 of the Employment Right Acts.

Nick, pictured left, exclusively told the Glasgow Times how he and his colleague felt they had no option but to leave their posts.

He said: “This is a huge piece of equipment which is situated in an area where people regularly work and food is prepared.

“It was only by pure chance that nobody was at the post when the wheel collapsed and it fell forward. If someone had been at the work station, their legs would have been crushed. It was only good fortune that nobody was seriously injured.

“It was quite a frightening experience, and then the shelf came off the wall moments later. We decided that enough was enough and we contacted the union, who advised us to go.”

Nick added: “We didn’t want to take such drastic action, but we just didn’t feel safe and had to act on the advice we were given. We’ve been raising concerns about a variety of issues around the conditions in the kitchen and have been getting nowhere. Our hand was effectively forced on Thursday.”

The incident comes after a recent protest inside and outside the venue by fellow hospitality workers in support of the 13th Note staff.

Glasgow Times:

Owner Jacqueline Fennessy says that staff were never in imminent danger – and labelled their actions as ‘excessive and unfair’.

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She told the Glasgow Times” A wheel broke on the fridge and it sloped slightly. The part was ordered immediately and two tradesmen were called. Members of staff were told to stay away from fridge, stop service and clean the kitchen.

“The fridge was then anchored to the floor with metal plates. From start to finish, this took two hours but the chefs walked out 20 minutes before the repair was complete after speaking to their union rep.

“The shelf is 57 inches up on the wall, so not above head height. It has been secured, and the fridge is also now secure. These were not inherent problems that I have ignored, but faults that occurred that day and repairs actioned immediately.

“I would reiterate there are no staff at the 13th Note are on zero hour contracts and all staff are being paid above the Living Wage, regardless of age or experience.”

She added: “This action is clearly not about health and safety but forcing my arm to accept Unite as the sole representation of staff. I fully support staff’s right to join a union and have always made it clear that I have no issue with them doing so. However, I feel this action and the behaviour of certain union officials is excessive and unfair, especially given this is a small independent business. 

“I have tried my upmost to meet demands and resolve this dispute.”

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A Unite Hospitality spokesperson said: "Today our members in the 13th Note kitchen were forced to invoke section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, allowing them to withdraw their labour in the face of serious and immediate threats to their safety and well-being. 

"This was a result of faulty equipment finally breaking, falling on workers and which could have caused much more serious bodily harm to workers. 

"Issues of health and safety have been raised by our members since the initial collective grievance in March yet 3 months on they have had to make this decision due to Jacqueline Fennessy's inaction to rectify severe issues. 

"This is about the safety of our members and the safety of customers. No person should be forced to leave their workplace due to serious and imminent danger in 2023. Our kitchen members will not be returning to work until their safety is guaranteed.

"The workers at 13th Note have reached the point that action such as this, protected under Section 44, has had to be taken. This is wholly unacceptable and could have been avoided if Jacqueline recognised the issues raised by the workforce.

"Our members are prepared to escalate this dispute if Jacqueline Fennessy does not improve the state of the workplace, as well as derisory pay and contracts and her refusal to recognise Unite as the union representing 95 per cent of workers."