A WORKER at a Scottish bar has spoken out for the first time after winning compensation from their former boss who treated them and their colleagues with “complete disdain” and sacked them all for going on strike. 

Former chef at the 13th Note, Nicholas Troy, has told The National what it felt like to win the legal battle against his former employer after a judge ordered them to pay staff compensation after they were unlawfully sacked. 

Troy, who had worked for the Glasgow live music venue since March 2022, was wrongfully fired when he and his colleagues decided to go on strike over the working conditions and other issues raised to the owner.  

Jacqueline Fennessy, who owned the 13th Note before it went into liquidation, had failed to properly consult on the sacking of a group of more than 20 workers and a judge ordered her to pay them 90 days' wages. 

Fennessy broke the news to Troy and his colleagues who had lost their jobs, hours before a union meeting via a press release and didn’t follow the correct protocols for termination of contracts. 

READ MORE HERE: Scottish bar workers sacked after strike win compensation

Troy, who was a rep in the five-person committee that was involved in the campaign over the workplace issues with Fennessy, spoke about the personal hurdles he endured and how he and his fellow workers were treated unfairly. 

Speaking about his experience Troy said: “That’s what she lost the case on, as much as there’s the specifics, she’s lost the case on our wider campaign.  

“Effectively what we were saying throughout the entire time we were treated with complete disdain, never listened to, never considered, I think that was proven.  

“I feel like because Jackie was so confrontational about everything it gave us that energy to fight on as if someone spits in your face, you're not going to do anything about it.” 

Representatives during the case described the unionising of the 13th Note staff as Scotland’s first bartender strike in 20 years. 

Fennessy was required under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act to oversee the election of an employee representative given the scale of the proposed redundancies and to consult with that person on the sackings. 

However, Fennessy failed to do so, and a judge ordered her to pay remuneration for a 90-day period from July 19, 2023. 

Troy stated the campaign to prove he, and his colleagues were in the right to go on strike over the working conditions was vindicated in the end, but touched on the mental battle it caused. 

The National:

He said: “Going through these campaigns, one of the biggest hurdles on a personal level is to overcome the thinking of 'is it worth it?' or 'am I doing the right thing?'. 

“We were obviously subject to a lot of trade union busting throughout the whole time, I had one of the managers at the time openly telling members of the staff that he was trying to force me out, and stuff like that. 

“You sometimes second guess yourself just in those quiet moments, but you’re always aware that you’re doing the right thing, and you sort of solider on.  

“But this sort of completes that and really confirms that in writing that on a personal level we were right in what we were doing, we were just in what we were doing, and we have been mistreated right through to the end.” 

Troy and other former staff members of the 13th Note have since started a campaign to bring the bar and venue under joint staff ownership.  

They plan on returning the iconic venue back to its former glory, not as a private business, but as a community hub. 

He said after winning the legal battle: “It feels good, it has been a long time coming, but it has reinvigorated us with the wider campaign with trying to reopen the 13th Note. 

READ MORE: Glasgow bar 13th Note shuts down after staff go on strike

“It could be and will be hopefully, a much more sustainable and profitable organisation in the hands of the workers who are on the front lines and democratically decide which direction to take it. 

“Also to try and reinvest some of that back into community projects and local communities and instead of the 13th Note being this source of passive income for someone like Jacqueline instead make it an actual hub for a wider community. 

“We want to make the 13th Note a really healthy community staple rather than a slowly dying decaying business that is relying on a reputation it had in the 90s.” 

Troy also stressed the 13th Note wasn’t an isolated incident in the hospitality industry in Scotland and the problems he and his fellow workers encountered are very common. 

He noted people working in the industry are in denial, much like he was for most of his working career, about their working situations and insisted one of the best ways to evoke change is by unionising. 

Hard Rock Cafe and Virgin Money were two examples he used about staff winning claims against their employers through the Unite union, adding the 13th Note’s case is also a good precedent for hospitality workers to unite. 

The National:

Troy said: “Think about joining a union. 

“I’ve worked across different places that have all had similar issues to the Note, we can all tell ourselves we are going to leave hospitality, but the way the economy is developing and the industrial landscape is changing the reality is more and more of us will be staying in hospitality whether if we like it or not.  

“The best thing to do is not just simply defend the very little rights in the workplace we have, but actually advance, and go on the offensive, and win more of them. 

“Not everything is going to turn out like the Note. I think there has been a precedent set with the Note where people think, ‘Oh well I don’t want my workplace to close’, but the reality is very few employers now in Glasgow are going to be confrontational as Jacqueline Fennessy was with us and drive it to that point.”

Fennessy has been approached for comment.