I try to keep it as short as possible, but this is THE reason why people need to ORGANIZE and stand up in unity as a group.
My heart is broken for this former Pret staff, a Kitchen Leader (KL) who made the same mistake I and so many other Pret folk do: He fought alone. But at least he FOUGHT!
Below is a link to a full Tribunal court decision, which shows that even if Judges agree that the respondent (in this case Pret who was getting sued) acted unreasonable, Judges have to do the fair thing, uphold the law, listen to other aspects and make decisions on democratic level UNLESS a law was broken.
This to me is a very sad case and a lost opportunity YET AGAIN!
Link to Judge Heath’s decision.
In a nutshell:
Former KL J-P Moussye sued Pret for “redundancy” pay after being dismissed/fired from Pret for refusing to sign the new contract of lower contracted hours. But Mr Moussy was NOT made redundant, he was fired.
This is on page 6, point 32, quote:
“As the claimant was not dismissed by reason of redundancy, he is not entitled to a redundancy payment, and I dismiss this part of his claim.”
Redundancy pay package can only be claimed when made redundant due to down-sizing a company etc. But here the deal was “you sign or get dismissed”. And dismissal is more negative than redundancy. Dismissal puts the blame on the one fired, while redundancy is not the person’s fault who got dismissed as redundancy. Therefore, no redundancy pay.
The simple choice that Pret forced upon staff was: you sign the new deal of lower contracted hours or you get fired. End of.
The court document states on page 5, point 27. quote, that “out of 4,443 staff members presented with proposed changes to their contracts of employment, all but six accepted.”
A little side note: the proposed changes happened just at the start of lock-down March 2020 when Pret boasted of around 12,000 staff. Interesting to see that less than half of employees have been “offered” this lower deal. And the question on social media always is, if the big guns, the execs also took a pay cut! Well, this number suggests no!
UPDATE July 2022
“Pret CEO handed near-£4m bonus in year staff pay was cut
Pano Christou also given 27% salary rise in 2021 as chain took more than £50m in government support”
And another little side-note, of course Pret would thrive again. Pret has cheated customers out of expensive ice drinks on subscription, keep having “technical issues” where the QR code doesn’t work or isn’t being send for days, forcing customers to buy instore as they give Pret the benefit of the doubt etc. etc.
News three days ago that sales are soaring again due to office workers going back to the offices. 80% of sales from pre-Pandemic levels! But of course, wages remain lowered and all the other perks Pret cut.
Link to Thisismoney article
So, only 6 staff refused to take the cut and were fired. And only one of the six went to court over it.
It further states in point 29. quote (I highlight/bold):
“Whether the dismissal is fair or unfair depends on whether in the circumstances (including the size and administrative resources the employer’s undertaking) the employer acted reasonably or unreasonably in treating the reason as sufficient reason for dismissing the employee, and is to be determined in accordance with the equity and the substantial merits of the case.”
Further on page 6, point 30. b, quote:
“The fact that a large percentage of the workforce has accepted contractual changes is a material factor which the tribunal can take account of in assessing whether the dismissal fell within the band of reasonable responses …”
Further point 33, quote:
“99.9% of the workforce went along with change, which in itself is supportive of the soundness of the respondent’s business reasons for restructure.”
In a nutshell 99.9% of staff said to Pret: “Lovely dearest Pret A Manger, we absolutely love for you to fuck us over with even less hours, and with it pay, for the hard work during a live threatening pandemic! And we loved how you immediately cut our hours before the first lockdown while giving NHS workers free coffee and 50% rebates, taking from us and using the NHS for a PR stunt and as a smoke screen to hide cuts to staff from the public. Hallelujah! We totally agree with this! Thank you SO much for exploiting us further! Big thumbs up!” 🙂
But what the Judge doesn’t realize is the fear management and brainwash and breaking of promises that Pret does. Of course the majority of low-wage, mainly foreign workers who have kids to feed or university fees to pay rather take the lousy deal, giving Pret the benefit of the doubt that the cut is temporary as promised!!!
The Judge took that willingness to get further exploited into considerations and concluded with a fair (to the Judge’s knowledge of Pret), but heart-breaking decision, point 34. quote:
“In considering whether the respondent acted reasonably or unreasonably, it is not for me to substitute my own opinion but to assess whether the respondent’s actions fell within a range of reasonable responses.”
In other words, even if Judge Heath agreed with J-P Moussy that Pret acted unreasonable, the Judge HAD TO take into account that 99.9% of staff loved getting screwed over with more exploitation!
I don’t know which number or percentage would have swayed the Judge to conclude in favour of Mr. Moussy, but imagine even just 5%, or 20% = about 1,200 staff would have objected to the new contract, or let’s dream of half, 50% = 2,000+ … the outcome would have been a very different one!
And that’s what breaks my heart, that Pret workers like ALL workers are sleeping GIANTS who don’t understand that if you ORGANIZE in numbers, you’ll chase Pret out of town in a heart beat!
And that is WHY I keep pressing people to join a flipping Union and ORGANIZE in increasing NUMBERS!!!!!!
The Judge’s job is to uphold the law. Pret has not broken any law. So, the next thing a Judge will do is take all sorts of things into consideration, and in this case the strongest issue leading to Pret winning is that 0.01% objected, resulting in less than that losing in court.
J-P Moussy probably has a huge legal bill on his neck. Is certainly depressed, hopefully his mental and physical health isn’t taking a hard nose-dive. But if you should ever read this Mr. Moussy, I for one have HUGE respect for you to have taken Pret on, even if I want to shake you for doing it alone! But I can’t shake you, because I made that mistake for too long!
But to give Pret staff and other low-wage workers hope, here a small YouTube slide on SOME of the MANY MANY customer voices on social media boycotting Pret because they learnt from ONE Guardian article after I tweeted to the press, because ONE Pret staff ask for help with a strike that never happened, as the staff must have been silenced by Pret. But they can’t silence customers and public voices!
And underneath, an Instagram rant by Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha who used her HUGE 400K+ followers platform to kick Pret’s butt, after customers learnt that Pret has made temporary pay cuts permanent:
And Nadia Sawalha’s beautiful rant on Instagram that still has me cry when I watch it. Pret staff you are NOT alone, but you need to stand up TOGETHER in a GROUP!
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.
Please also see the MEDIA page for more.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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