Customers continue to raise the issue of under-staffed shops with queues out the door. Exhausted staff who slave for minimum-wage while Pret made a big PR announcement to be raising pay to £10 (from April on) while having cut pay during the pandemic, cut benefits and paid breaks. Workers are worse off while Pret do their usual “charity” PR stunts again.
And before anyone compares and comes with the “argument” that you don’t get your breaks paid, try to work on your feet for 8, 10, 12+ hours straight every day under intense stress, noise, heat, tinnitus, angry leader, bullying manager, mystery shopper commenting that you didn’t smile, frustrated customers who complain that their coffee took 2 minutes etc. etc. etc. Try working in that environment, all while HAVING to smile or not get mystery shopper bonus. Staff should get their breaks paid again and more than a flipping living wage. I write extensively about Pret’s micromanaging, strict and plainly abusive mystery shopper scheme here: The Dangers of Emotional Labour.
Pret silenced a staff member’s strike announcement which rallied a lot of support from customers via the media. Let me rewind to 2020.
At the start of the pandemic, just before first lock-down, Pret did a nasty PR stunt again. Pret announced on 18. March 2020 to give free coffees and 50% rebate for NHS staff, which of course turned into a big media event with countless customers complimenting Pret on their “generosity” and ethical attitude. Well …
The very next morning on 19. March 2020 I received a desperate message from a staff member unbeknown to me, that CEO Pano Christou has sent an email to all shops early morning on 19. March to announce cuts to staff.
Pret used NHS staff for PR and as a smokescreen to hide cuts to staff. I was sent the CEO’s email by another staff member and published it here: Plea to NHS Employees.
In a nutshell, low-wage front-line Pret workers paid for the NHS freebies. Companies like Pret always take it from the lowest to do their marketing scheme for the public. I passed this on to the press immediately and went on a social media spree to inform as many NHS workers as I could find.
Only 1 NHS staff was outraged as far as I could find. I’m sure there are more. But most NHS workers loved the freebies, with nor care about Pret staff.
In the following months Pret fired 3000 staff, cut hours, cut pay, cut benefits and stopped paid breaks while executives worked safely from home or socially distanced in air conditioned head office. And they continued to received a juice bonus package. If not, Pret would have “proudly” announced that executive pay and bonuses were cut, as Pret is always FAST to make huge PR announcements.
The same with donating £50.000 to Ukraine which is peanuts for Pret. Many shops make £50K in two days, some even in one day! In contrast to that, former CEO Clive Schlee received £30 MILLION on bonus for himself alone. We can only speculate how much all the other executives and share holders pocket, even during the pandemic!
I explain WHY and WHEN Pret always make big “charity” announcements including the interesting timing of Pret’s £1000 announcements to all staff back in 2018: Pret’s Charity Projects.
Link to Daily Mail report.
They then made the cuts permanent which caused a huge public outcry via the media. One brave staff member made the strike announcement but was quickly silenced because Pret played a trick on them. I explain here: Pret Staff Announce Strike.
Two tweets from only today from 2 different shops within an hour from each other. And Pret always ask customers to DM with more info claiming to be “so concerned to read this” as if Pret isn’t aware of the stress THEY cause from head office. Especially on weekends shops have maximum 3 staff, if they’re lucky 4. I worked like this in different Pret shops, and that before the pandemic. But now it’s much much worse. So, Pret ask for DM to lure customer data for future marketing.
More customer complaints and staff reviews in below YouTube slides including some stern words from Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha.
I use YouTube because not everyone wants to read long blog posts and because Facebook/Instagram completely censored/blocked my website after Pret and die-hard Pret fans reported me. But they can’t block YouTube!
This customer tweet hits the nail on the head!
Long queues and customers started to boycott:
Staff reviews and Nadia Sawahla’s words after Pret made temporary pay-cuts permanent:
Some of many staff reviews from before the pandemic:
The MOST poignant staff review from a kitchen worker who also had to jump in serving customers. There is no better worded review I have ever come across regarding work 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 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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