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I was sent a message this morning from a Pret employee about Pret cutting 25% of hours / pay to all staff. Another Pret worker then confirmed and sent me the email that CEO Pano Christou sent to all UK shops and HQ this morning (19.03.2020).
His email was sent to me as a screenshot. But I was asked to not post the screenshot of the email but to write a transcript.
In the midst of giving freebies and 50% rebates to NHS workers and cranking up the PR machine again, Pret cuts 25% pay and hours of their low paid staff. Most now work 16 hours per week and get 25% cut on top of it, and are pressured to take holidays and unpaid leave. Do the math of £8.65 per hour how much they get at the end of the week!
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the PR[et] Machine!
I also wrote a blog entry today: “Pret A Clowns” addressing Pano Christou and Clive Schlee as they read my blog. No more sweet-talk!
Pano Christou’s “love letter” this morning:
Dear 75B and UK Shops
In moments of crisis we are challenged on our values and it is important we continue to support each other. People are at the heart of Pret. That’s why our biggest priority as we navigate the impact of Coronavirus is to protect our people. Pret is a wonderful company because it is full of amazingly talented, passionate, kind and generous people. I call it my second home after spending 20 years of my life with such wonderful people who have helped to shape me as a leader, father and a human being.
There are many people losing their jobs from other companies, especially in our sector. Our aim is not lose anyone, because we believe that we are all in this together.
Unfortunately we cannot ignore the fact that our sales in the UK have dropped by 75% and we believe this will be our new reality for several weeks. Therefore we have to reduce our costs somehow.
We are prioritising cuts in all areas that don’t impact our people directly, however it’s vital we also address pay. This means we need to ask every single Pret employee to take a 25% reduction in their contracted hours (and therefore pay). I know this is a huge ask and it breaks my heart to have to get to this point. I know it will hit people hard, but if we can achieve this, we can avoid job losses at this time. The Global Leadership Team and Board will be taking bigger cuts
We anticipate that our current reduction in sales will continue for at least 3 months and therefore the reduction in hours and associated pay will need to cover this period. If sales improve before then or we receive any further assistance from the government, nothing would make me happier than to be able to reverse this decision more quickly. I will keep you informed.
It goes without saying that if anyone would like to reduce their hours even further (perhaps for personal reasons) or take any period of unpaid absence or sabbatical (even if they haven’t been as Pret for long) then please let the HR team know.
It is important that every single Manager speaks to every single member of their team by Friday 12 noon (20th March) to explain this. There will be lots of questions and following this note the HR team will be sending a list of actions that need to be taken, a letter that needs to be given to every person, and answers to the questions you and your teams may have.
To help our Pret people at this difficult time, we are setting up a Coronavirus Hardship Fund. More details to follow early next week. If any employee needs assistance due to the reduction in their hours then they must ask us for help and we will do all we can to support.
I am fully aware of the impact this change has on us all and I thank you for your understanding.
Take care of yourself and each other.
UPDATE 16. April 2020
NEW Manager review on the pay and Covid-19 handling:
I don’t want to comment too much as I have been writing and tweeting all day on this. But a few things.
Pano writes, quote: “if we can achieve this, we can avoid job losses at this time”.
First of all, how about stopping to give freebies to NHS workers and stop the PR, and take care of your own workers! I am all for supporting medical staff, service persons etc. but at THIS time where the virus is spreading and staff don’t know how to survive, Pret cranks up the PR machine again and low-wage workers are paying for it!
And about the job losses, this is the typical Pret manipulation to scare workers into pay-cuts. Pret needs staff more than they want to admit. If Pret was to fire workers and business comes back up again, they would have to employ masses of people and train them fast. Cutting pay and cutting hours, keeping workers will have Pret back on its feet in no time.
Pano: “The Global Leadership Team and Board will be taking bigger cuts.”
The Global Leadership Team and Board earn 5 and 6-digit figures #FFS!!! I expect them to make HUGE cuts and keep the workforce at their pay level at the LEAST!
CEO Dan Price has cut his salary for his workers and his company Gravity Pay is thriving ever since! In 2015 Dan cut his $1.1 million annual pay down to $70K to raise the minimum wage for ALL his staff to $70K. And now his company is pulling together without him having to beg! He will leave a solid legacy behind, built on foundations of truth, integrity and life-changing actions. Dan said he has never regretted it and is happier than ever before. He has a healthy and thriving work environment and many CEOs are following his example! He will not be remembered for the sweet-talk that brings no change for the better and for which Pret is so known for within its own workforce.
Nothing more to say except, shame on Pret for squeezing their low-paid employees even more now, while pretending to sacrifice so much on top levels. Whatever cuts the top management makes on their own pay, they still have millions in the bank! And giving freebies to NHS workers at the same time is a smokescreen, while staff don’t know how to pay the rent! Absolute shame! Pret did the same recently with making plant-based milks free, and then raising the coffee prices at the same time. People always pay, one way or another!
Again, NHS workers DESERVE every bit of a break and support and love we can give them, absolutely! But Pret disregards their own yet again for the sake of PR and to polish up their cracked public image! Shame!
To all Pret employees:
JOIN A UNION!
These two Unions are very active and the best informed on Pret issues:
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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in → Pret Staff Complaints.
And extensive accounts of Pret’s systemic bullying behind the facade, also witnessed by customers: Caught in the Act at Pret.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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