A Thousand Flowers can today reveal a series of damning allegations concerning the operations of G1 Group, one of Scotland’s largest entertainment companies. G1 are no strangers to controversy, and in late August were targeted by protesters after it emerged the company had failed to pay the minimum wage to some staff.
Days later, panicking bosses at G1 Group were already demanding that staff refuse to speak out. In a message posted to workers at the G1-owned Underground nightclub in Dundee, staff members were told to “just say g1 group is a good company to work for and nothing else” if approached. The full post by management at the club, who qualified that it “comes from above”, reads:
The message was posted to an internal staff group on Facebook and offers further insight into working conditions at the firm, who have been described as a “notoriously bad employer” by the STUC’s Better Than Zero campaign. G1 have cultivated a reputation for being fiercely profit oriented, with the “values” page on their website upfront in stating that “Creating profit and growth is central to what we do. We shouldn’t shy away from this. All decisions must be made with commercial principles in mind.”
Despite their habit for negative media attention and constrained consumer spending in recent years, G1 have recorded consistent year-on-year increases in turnover and profit. The 2013-14 financial year saw business turnover of over £60m, with profits of some £11.2m.
Now A Thousand Flowers can reveal the startling depths which G1 are alleged to go to in a desperate bid to boost their profit margins. G1 own around 45 pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and venues across Scotland, with their lavish head office occupying the former BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow’s west end. It’s understood that the HQ maintains a close watch on individual venues, with monthly visits from auditors and a box-ticking grading system used that has a heavy focus on profitability.
We’ve also received a series of allegations relating to the Underground nightclub in Dundee, with claims that bar staff are encouraged to cut corners – in various ways – in a bid to save money. For legal reasons, we can’t repeat all of these claims. However, we’ve been told that cleaning equipment is unfit for purpose, to the extent that staff at the club tell each other to “use a straw” when on nights out there, adding an interesting twist to the venue’s promise of “dirt cheap drinks”. We understand the ice machine is best avoided.
Earlier this year, G1 Group made national headlines after they were outed by the UK Government as having underpaid their workforce by more than £45,000, which they had illegally deducted from wages to cover training costs and uniforms. They have since ended this practice. This followed the furore over the installation of a ‘spy mirror’ in women’s toilets in Glasgow’s Shimmy Club in 2013, and their legal wrangle and eventual payout last year to a disabled couple who were refused entry to the Polo Lounge, also in Glasgow. Earlier this year, G1 opened a new casino venue in Glasgow, the Cotton Club, which promised to “hark back” to the famous Prohibition-era, whites-only jazz club of the same name.
A Thousand Flowers contacted G1 Group with details of each allegation concerning Underground on Monday evening. They have yet to respond to our request for comment.