Madjid Hamla – formerly Pret A Manger

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There’s only one person in all my 10 years in Pret, or more precisely, in my last 3 years in Pret after I went through horrendous shock and grief, being bullied in the middle of it, who cared. Only ONE Leader who showed immense empathy and normalcy and care and respect. It was my line manager at the time, very shortly after my brother died. She was incredibly supportive, and more than that, she didn’t write anything detrimental about me after being asked to put down anything in writing against me, that some did without reason. I still think of Cat. my line manager before she went on maternity leave. When she went on maternity leave, all hell broke loose. And the rest is history.

But I remember other people who were great, mainly Team Members, but only one OPs Manager (Operation/Area Manager) before my life went upside-down, who seemed to care. In 2008 or 2009, my first year in Pret, I worked in the Broadwick Street branch for 2 years before it became the first Veggie Pret.

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My then OPs left Pret and we had a new OPs, but we weren’t introduced yet of course, because our Manager didn’t care to update us on anything new in Pret or the area. We were always aware that OPs Managers are just there to come into the shop, look important, fear manage a little and then return home or to the pub.

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One afternoon I had late shift and started the cashing up around 5pm. The shop was quiet, about 3 customers max. and a customer standing by the “Langars” (fridges) starring at the selection of food for a while.

I approached the customer and asked “Hi there, need any help deciding (on the products)”? I did that for two reasons: the customer stood at fridges for a longer time from a distance, which was unusual, and 2. I was drilled to cater to Mystery Shoppers. Out of fear I thought this might be the Mystery Shopper COUNTING the amount of food/selection in the Langar.

When I ask if I can help, he stretched out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Madjid, I’m your new OPs Manager”.

On the inside of me, I wiped my forehead off the sweat in fear, because we were always drilled with fear.

You see, fear management is HUGE in Pret. It’s the game of the executives. They thrive off it.

But I felt that Madjid was different. He didn’t seem blown up like so many of Pret’s OPs’ are.

At the time 2008/09, Pret’s porridge came in sachets of dry porridge which the Barista had to stir in with hot milk. But it added to the Barista’s work-load and stress, especially when people asked for skimmed, soya or then full fat milk porridge. Pret then changed it to ready-cooked porridge in plastic bags that held 6 cups of skimmed milk porridge. The bags had to be reheated in water baths or in the microwave by the “Hot Chef” who’s responsible for all the hot food. (Side note: the Hot Chef has THE WORST job, the hardest job on the shop floor! And only those who care do this job, are underrated and underpaid).

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After Madjid introduced himself, he asked me to check something about the new porridge bags. He asked how many cups are in the new porridge bags. Me being myself, I didn’t pretend to know it and just said that I don’t know. He then said, let’s go and find out and learn together. In the office, in the computer system we looked for the info.

In hindsight I don’t know if this was Madjid testing me, but I had the impression at the time that he was genuinely looking for this information and had a humble attitude to check this. I was struck that he seemed respective and not afraid to say that he doesn’t know it all.

I only worked in his area for about a month or two before I moved on to another area to get away from the management of that shop. But I always bragged about Madjid with my colleagues when we ranted about our then current OPs Managers who were arrogant, bossy, belittling and bullying … And I also knew/felt that Madjid respected and knew me from my work, my reputation. Well, correct me if I’m wrong, Madjid.

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Fasting forward to January 2017. I am in the middle of multiple grievance hearings against mainly leaders, Managers, OPs Managers and higher up HR personnel. I raised these grievances based on emails after I applied for my file. I had THEIR words black on white. In one grievance appeals hearing against a People Business Partner, Madjid Hamla was appointed as the hearing Manager. But since I applied for my file I could see the email exchanges between Pret HR, Managers, OPs and Madjid who was the Head of the City.

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When I read Madjid’s name in the invite letter I immediately protested this and he was taken out of the hearing.

I know it’s silly to you the reader that I went on for so long about Pret’s bullshit. But I was traumatized. I was out of my mind.

To Madjid, I remember in around 2017-ish when I was waiting in 75B for YET another grievance hearing, you walked by to leave HQ and looked at me with this cheeky smile as if to say “you’re kicking butt girl”.

Yes, that was nice that you gave me the silent heads up, but I would have appreciated if you would have cared to make a fucking difference and for once in Pret draw the line in what I went through. You could have EASILY said to HR, to Clive etc. that Pret needs to change their approach to employees, especially those bereaved.

I still have the question to Chris Walsh if the Assistant Manager he was telling me about who was mistreated WHILE in bereavement is the same Assistant Manager who died by suicide a few months later. Her name is Emily.

I almost died by suicide and I am still struggling to stay alive.

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Fasting forward to 2021 on Linkedin. Last year in 2020 I posted to Madjid on Linkedin. And to my surprise he briefly responded. Yesterday, I posted to him again, and he replied again. And THAT is a person, a leader who shows that he is not afraid. The only problem is though, he reported me to Linkedin and got my post hidden, but as usual I made screenshots.

And as usual “leaders” at Pret or formerly having worked at Pret only think about themselves and the peer pressure to please a company who is just out to make money.

That is why Cat. will always be THE ONLY person, the only LEADER who has the biggest balls and heart, having worked in a company that didn’t deserve her. And Pret didn’t deserve me and so, so, so many other people.

So, thank you Madjid for having been on eye-level with me as one of the very few OPs (higher up Managers) all these years ago, but no thank you for now not respecting free-speech and getting Linked posts hidden. I hope your new job, if you have one, you certainly won’t need a job, gives you joy and whatever may add to your legacy.

Stay safe. And Madjid? I don’t respect you anymore and any more than I respect a human being in the gutter.

Hidden Linkedin posts / Screenshots: (Mind I say that “Ex Pret” crew … I’m glad to have given Pret Leaders the inspiration yet again).

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Madjid’s response is a typical Pret A Manger cop-out: He left Pret in 2019, therefore he doesn’t feel responsible anymore while still posting Pret-related stuff. Good try Madjid, try again. But I understand that Madjid worked over 25 years in Pret. And that is why he is AS responsible as anyone from the executive team. Clive Schlee is still hiding, in hopes grass continues to grow …

Madjid, you lost me the moment you agreed to be the hearing Manager for my grievance against Nick Davis. I have as much “respect” for you as for most Pret executives.

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etc.

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My favourite words of my favourite President on 20. January 2021. Words that will never come out of any Pret A Manger executive’s mouth. And if it does, it’s just Pret A Manger sweet-talk as usual.

I never had a “favourite” President as I am not American, but I lived in the U.S. for 6 years and visited many times before and after … I understand the mentality of this country, learnt the “heart” language and appreciate some of the ups and downs.

And the following words are cold water to a burning soul in low-wage companies that pretend to be ethical and caring. Anyone who finds bullying at work acceptable because it is in low-wage jobs…you are bystanders, indifferent and AS involved as the person/company who bullies. Live is too short to be treated so badly.

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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 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.

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Thank you for reading/listening.

©2017 – Present: expret.org


Interview:

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