Spy camera fury: Staff walk out after discovering hidden lenses in Glasgow shop
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STAFF at a city center health food store have gone on strike after discovering secret cameras in rooms where staff changed, just four weeks after opening.
Exclusive by[nbsp_tc]Niall Christie
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Workers at Harvest Stores, some under 18, were horrified and alerted[nbsp_tc]police[nbsp_tc]after findings the lenses hidden in a network modem and air detector.
The Union Street store, which has been closed since Monday’s walk out, houses nearly 70 cameras but, as the room is not a designated changing area, legal lines have not been crossed by managing director Amin Din.
The row emerged amid claims that Mr Din owes four staff thousands in unpaid wages.
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Store manager Karen Nicholson, who led the walk out, said: “We shut the shop as soon as we found the cameras and got the police in.
“That is where staff got changed and nobody knew about these until Monday. We uncovered the cameras in the office on Sunday, where staff also get dressed, and then checked the staff room as we knew the number of cameras and microphones in the shop already.
“We might have suspected this but it was still a massive shock. He monitors the cameras from home.
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“Police said that while it was morally questionable, legally he was in the clear.
“I am very upset. The staff are predominantly young women, some of them are just young girls under 18. Now they are worried about what has happened to the footage.”
She added that officers were “amazed” at the number of cameras in the shop.
Staff have also been left in the lurch as some are owed hundreds in unpaid wages from June. In total, four staff are yet to get just under £2,000 from the shop’s owner.
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They now face an anxious wait to see whether they will be paid this week.
Despite being paid in full, supervisor Robert Taylor also walked out.
With three young children to support, he may have to sell belongings to afford food.
He said: “I’m putting together a list of things that I can afford to sell to pay rent.
“We’re doing this so new staff don’t have to deal with the secrets and lies like us.
“I will be looking for other work but I’m worried I won’t get my next pay this week.”
After walking out, staff approached the Baker’s Union and Better than Zero who are now supporting them through an industrial action.
A spokesperson for Better than Zero said: “It takes real courage to do what the workers at Harvest Stores are doing – standing together as union members, against a boss who has run his business with a toxic mix of control and intimidation.”
“Karen, Robert and their co-workers will go all the way to get the pay they’re due. But this is about more than settling a wage dispute – by speaking out and joining the BFAWU union en masse, they are lighting a beacon for everyone in[nbsp_tc]Glasgow[nbsp_tc]whose pay and conditions are set at the mercy of the boss.
[nbsp_tc][br_tc]“Precarious work is becoming the norm in Glasgow, and Better than Zero is ready to support all workers who are prepared to join unions and take on those who profit from low pay and insecurity.”
Police also confirmed that they had attended the store on Monday morning over a problem with security cameras.
They added: “Police provided assistance and advice was given to staff on the matter. No crime was identified.”
When asked to comment, Mr Din said that the matter was a “stupid oversight” on his part.
He said: “I hold my hands up and admit that I should have put signs up sooner.
“Basically the staff entered and found cameras in the staff kitchen area and office.
“It was not a changing area. The police confirmed that no law has been broken. They were installed by a reputable company. I can monitor these from home but they have not been working.
“They were purely for security purposes so that if there were any issues I could look back. I just never got around to putting them up. There is a separate area for changing for staff in the toilet facility, with a separate sink. This was made clear. There are cleaning products everywhere.
“The pay issue was resolved by the accountant and staff would have been paid in full on Monday. As the company is new, it hadn’t worked out.
“Staff were not paid in full or on time. Every single staff member was asked before hand. We were late getting details to the accountant so there was a delay.
“It was an oversight and they were there for security only.”