ACAS Guide to Bereavement at Work

 

A guide I have passed on to Pret A Manger since May 2015 when I first approached HR to make suggestions after my then line manager had me on prolonged 5 months late shifts and refused to rotate my shifts like it was before I became bereaved.

I approached HR, not to raise grievances or complain but to just bring ideas and suggestions. I never imagined that approaching HR would put a target on my back.

I speak extensively about my ordeal with Pret on my blog and podcast interview.

man-320273__340

 

 

I passed the ACAS Guide to Bereavement at the Workplace to HR and several different managers, area managers and anyone in a responsible position between 2015 and 2017. But of course apart from sweet-talk and the horrendous treatment that followed, lead from the very top, this guide was not taken into consideration. If this is now in Pret’s sight, than certainly after I left Pret.

I will keep it short as people who are really interested in this can read the guide and download the PDF file that ACAS has posted in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care, the largest bereavement short-term support charity in the UK that I visited early on in my bereavement as well.

I just want to point out some things concerning bullying during bereavement and how my situation became 10 times worse than I could have ever anticipated even could happen to people who go through grief and trauma.

This will always be on Pret’s resume as well as how they dealt, or rather how they did NOT deal with TWO customer deaths, and why in this profit driven Western society there is such a strong resistance and refusal to supporting people in grief and tragedy. Once tragedy hits an employee they frankly become an inconvenience as companies want “robots” that function non-stop for the millions the top is gaining.

That’s why I have come to start disliking the term “workforce” as this sounds like an army, a factory of robots having to function in a modern-day slavery setting, under the pretense of “productivity” and “buzz” and “fun”.

 

Excerpts from the ACAS Guide on Bullying during Bereavement
on pages 11 & 12

~~~~~~~~~~

ACAS:

»Avoiding discrimination and addressing bullying

Employers should ensure their employees who are likely to be affected by the disability are able to recognise it, especially when performance or absence of a bereaved employee becomes unacceptable over the longer term for no other apparent reason.«

~~~~~~~~~~

This versus my experience of being targeted and penalized for not smiling during customer service even when I asked, almost begged to work in the kitchen for a while when I started to tear up on the shop floor. More on the Emotional Labour in this blog entry and the “brutality” of what Pret expects, no matter what.

 

09 Brutal Nightmare

Only one of >>> several comments on YouTube

 

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ACAS:

»Addressing Bullying

Bullying is defined as unwanted behaviour or conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. If the bullying is related to a protected characteristic then it is harassment.

Managing bereavement in the workplace

Employers should be alert to inappropriate behaviour following bereavement. Absence through bereavement can place burdens on co-workers and line managers alike who may pressurise (inadvertently or otherwise) or bully a bereaved employee into returning to work or performing their duties to the same level as they did before the death. The intentions of the bully do not matter – what is important is the impact that the behaviour has on the employee who is being bullied.

For example:
Rouji works on a telephone helpline and recently lost her mother. On her return from bereavement leave she is finding it hard to cope at work: she is struggling to reach her targets for calls answered and sometimes leaves the room visibly upset. Brandon, the manager, notices that the staff are unhappy at what they see as “carrying Rouji”, an attitude reinforced by the vocal views of her supervisor who has been overheard saying “she should get a grip, when my mother died, I found work a relief, look at the problems she is causing us.”Rouji has noticed the shaking heads of colleagues and their “tuts” when she leaves the room and this is adding to her distress. Although Brandon recognises the burden on the team, the company has a policy of not tolerating bullying and harassment. Brandon tells the supervisor to stop this behaviour and let it be known that staff may face disciplinary action if this unwanted behaviour continues. At the same time he sees if a temporary worker can be deployed until Rouji is able to reach her performance targets.«

~~~~~~~~~~

The guide goes on to cover a variety of issues regarding paid leave, long-term or reoccurring effects of grief etc. I just concentrate mainly on the subject of bullying here as this involved even Pret’s HR, Head Quarters, Clive Schlee CEO as this is systemic and no surprise anymore, why I went from management to management that had no policy in place to protect me or bereaved employees in general.

A People Business Partner (PBP) from HR in a grievance appeal’s hearing that I raised even admitted that there was another employee, an assistant manager who was bereaved and also mistreated at work, but that she was “bitter”. He foolishly compared me with her as if we were bitter because we raised grievances of wrongdoing. I emailed this PBP later that day in anger saying that this AM is not bitter, but in a lot of pain, as I related to her nightmare.

A few months after this hearing and what the PBP told me in that hearing, I learned that an AM died by suicide. I cannot proof that this is the same person, but I do not believe in coincidences anymore with Pret, especially after they involved a Development Manager from HQ who supposedly also had a brother who died in his flat, like my brother died in his flat… But I don’t believe this anymore. Weeks later after our contact I learned that she is also a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner, and the more hidnsight I have and keep talking about this, the more I don’t believe that she had a brother, even while I see some posts on her facebook page regarding her brother in 2016 before I knew her.

I tell my story verbally for the first time on a podcast here below in the audio player. I also collected many staff reviews from outside pages like Glassdoor, Indeed, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. and combined them unto one page as Pret Staff Complaints.

I am so loud because I almost lost my life and if I alsmost ended my life, an assistant manager did, how many more are there. If Pret can hide two customer deaths under the carpet, how many work-related staff suicides or attempted suicides are there?

 

“Penalized for calling out for a funeral”

2018-11-01 Funeral

Former Barista, New York

 

Avoid AM

Former Assistant Manager, London

 

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I can only urge any company, large or small to please have a look at this guide from ACAS. It is only a guide to which companies can draft their own policy from this blueprint that ACAS provides in partnership with Cruse. I survived systemic workplace bullying in a company that is very efficient in marketing and PR portraying themselves to be an ethical and caring company.

I have a different story…

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived workplace bullying that involved the top leadership and HQ. 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. Thank you for reading.

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

Whatever you do, How little you know

 

If your friend, family member, colleague, employee, acquaintance… loses someone, don’t leave them alone. You will not know what to do, and that is ok. Just don’t leave them alone, or even worse tell them it’s their fault they are so down. They are lost and don’t know what to do. They feel already the guilt of loss and being a burden.

And stay away from Pret A Manger and any company that hurt people, using them for PR while bullying those who go through tragedy. Don’t believe their facade and psychology. They can afford companies who manipulate with wordings to “hypnotize” the public for profit. And the public wants to believe the facade. I know Pret since 10 years and gave them the benefit of the doubt too much (that only is my fault). Pret does not care for people, except themselves and whoever is in their elite group who play their games. As long as you play their game, you are in their group.

Most people don’t play games and are just used, and exploited, and lied to. Pret A Manger is a very dishonest company. Support the small independent businesses, even if you have to walk, drive extra to get to them. We all enable those careless companies because we are not willing to change our habits.

They even did nothing after customers died and multiple warnings to label their products properly until it became public. If that doesn’t tell people how Pret really is, than I don’t know.

The blogger community is the best social media among all social media platforms; solid, thoughtful, creative.

I’ve given it all, I told my story, if people care to know or not is not my concern. Pret doesn’t even respond on Twitter to my open confrontation. All they do is get Twitter to “shadow ban” me. Pathetic! I passed on the written evidence to people. I’ve given it my best. Stand up for yourself and those who can’t. Look closer, if a profit-driven company looks too good to be true, look behind the facade. Businesses can afford to employ companies to write fake reviews, look at the little people who stand up against a giant. Join a Union and stand up for yourself. I was too naive and traumatized and gave Pret the benefit of the doubt too much.

But I have written it all down.

Thank you for reading. Happy 2019.

 

 

pexels-photo-212324

 

 

©2019 poetrasblok.com

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Question if I filed a Court Claim against Pret A Manger

 

judge-1587300__340

 

 

The more people learn about my story with Pret the more the question comes up if I went to court against Pret.

Yes I did. But I withdrew.

 

If you are a new reader to my ordeal with Pret A Manger, you will be confused and overwhelmed as my story is very complex and long. Those who have been following since the beginning when I started to publish on my blog in May 2018 have a good picture on what I went through.

This will eventually turn into a chronological book of events.

 

But to briefly answer the repeated and valid question if I sued Pret or if not, then why not, which I was just asked today again on Facebook, I decided to write this in a blog and just link to it.

 

When I was dismissed after being bullied, manipulated, gaslighted, held low, lied to by Pret’s toxic HR department, and continuously patronized by Pret’s CEO, Clive Schlee, who is not willing to label products for allergen information but was willing to label me his “late night girl” after the ordeal I went through… when I was dismissed three days after Christmas 2017 with my dad in intensive care just woken out of a coma, I filed a Tribunal claim as soon as I was able to in February 2018 as you have 3 months minus 1 day to file a claim.

In the meantime I was flying back and forth again between London and Germany to be with my dad (who was in hospital since 10.11.2017) as best I could on his bed side and then later in rehab. In the middle of all this I started to prepare for the Tribunal claim which would have happened in September 2018 with the first preliminary hearing in April 2018.

But I had no legal aid as I cannot afford lawyer fees. I scrapped all legal information together as best as I could, going from Citizen Advise Bureau to other free legal advisors to online researching back and forth, while also flying back and forth between London and my father’s bed side.

 

For people in the USA to understand, the legal system in the UK or in Europe in general is very different to the USA. Since 2015 on and off I contacted various law firms including pro-Bono, no-win no-fee firms, I even had a lawyer for a while who advised me for free. But I had to find out later again that he only wanted to make a quick buck by settling with Pret and get his 30%+ fee from the settlement. He didn’t really advise me properly anyway and even gave me some false advise at times which I later found out when I continued to do my “homework” researching online. I rejected four settlement offers from Pret, three while still working in Pret, and the fourth one via negotiating with the ACAS conciliator while withdrawing the Tribunal claim I raised and then closed. I dropped the “charitable” lawyer as soon as I found he was just looking for fast money himself.

In the USA lawyers would line up like vultures wanting to sue Pret on my behalf as the compensation can be ridiculously huge. In the UK the compensation would have maybe be maximum £10.000, maybe even more and mostly around £8000.

One former assistant manager who became homeless after being unfairly dismissed from Pret has gotten under £10K.

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff

Link

 

But 33% for the lawyer is peanuts for them to go all the way through with days and days of preliminary and then the main hearings. The free lawyer I had for a while also kept saying to me that it takes months before the hearings take place. In the UK they don’t bother for this “little” amount, while the Millions that can be won in the USA has lawyers drooling for cases like mine.

 

My father then died in March this year, and again I found myself crumbled under the weight of what life has thrown at me since I learned of my brother’s death in January 2015 (but he died in December 2014) and all I went through in Pret. Autopilot kicked in again, but I couldn’t cope anymore. Enough is enough. I want to die, but I want to live. I need a break.

 

1971-07-14 WK PK2 crop

WK 1939 – 2018

 

I withdrew my claim against Pret as my father died in the middle of preparing for the court case with scraps of legal advise I stumbled through, and my mental health taking another nose dive beyond basement level. But I did my homework and asked the Tribunal for the right to file a second claim later should I decide to file again. And I was granted this request.

If I will raise a second claim or if the time limit will be over, I don’t want to talk about.

But this is the reason why I withdrew my case, as it is so complex which involved the heart of Pret, the CEO, HQ, Head of HR, a Development Manager who was used to gaslight me etc. etc. etc. Unwillingly and unprecedented I poked into the heart of Pret, and for me to go all the way through to court without a lawyer going all the way with me would be suicide, as I cannot handle even small stress mentally at this time.

So, lucky for Pret I withdrew, but lucky for me I didn’t sign my rights away for peanuts. And even if Pret had offered me a huge amount, I don’t prostitute my values nor sign my rights away for life. So, I published now.

 

What happened to Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and her family has utterly devastated and shaken me. I wrote it before I have learned of her death, that having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life. And now having learned of her tragedy, I am deeply ashamed to have ever given my time, effort and skill to this company, and having tried to improve work conditions from within while extremely traumatized myself. A company’s facade that does not care for people’s lives and health will get more and more cracks in time, with a glimpse behind the scenes of their carelessness.

 

Ednan-Laperouse

 

 

My heart and prayers go out to Natasha’s family and friends; her brother Alex, her mum and dad Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse.

 

 

I hope in time more people will come forward, especially on the issue of suicide in Pret as well as work conditions, bullying and customer injuries. On work conditions this former employee was the first to go public, I am the second and in time I hope more will follow. And I hope Natasha’s family pursue Pret in court as they have the finances for legal aid and the public behind them now with many warnings Pret ignored.

 

Thank you for reading and please open your eyes to Pret and take a closer look behind the facade, as indeed take a closer look at ANY company or organization that looks too good to be true in this profit driven society today.

If you don’t take anything away from my publications, ask yourself if anyone can really smile and be “happy” for 8+ hours DAILY in an intensely high stressed work environment out of true “happiness” or if there is anything else behind this!

 

And my question to Pret A Manger remains: If an assistant manager died by suicide in 2017, I almost did as well after my turmoil at work, and now Natasha’s death in 2016 is revealed, HOW MANY MORE people died and/or suffered hospitalization, depression, mental health issues, physical and mental injuries in relation to Pret.

 

2018-09-16 Re Emily to Pret

Link to Tweet

 

The only way I cope is to write, and to write creatively of my ordeal. I said it to Pret while I still worked there that it is a mistake to mistreat someone who suffered loss and is a writer, as that person has nothing to lose anymore. And as Madeleine Peyroux wrote so poignantly in her song “Don’t Pick A Fight With A Poet”, Pret in their arrogance and feeling invincible, #toobigtofail, again did not heed yet another warning.

 

 

Some blog entries that give a good glance behind the shiny PR(et) facade:

 

Selected “Quotes of the Day” from substantial, but not exhaustive list of Pret Staff Complaints.

 

How I became a late night girl as “labelled” by Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee.

 

Pret A Mask

 

An important Open Letter to the Director HR.

 

And finally, I take the sentence back at the end of this “video” that Pret has a good heart. I take that back. The good heart in Pret is the hard-working teams I had the privilege to look after. But I leave this “video” as a reminder and a sore in Pret’s sight of my passion, care and love for people, having tried to improve work conditions while myself being traumatized and mistreated by the top leadership of Pret, leaders in HR and HQ!

 

 

 


 

As my blog has grown into a maze of writings, I created a “Mind Map”, an overview to the most important blog entries for the reader not to get cluttered with posts. To understand the main issues that I have survived, please visit My Ordeal with Pret A Manger overview, click on the arrow next to each heading that you choose which will lead directly to posts back onto this blog. Thank you for reading.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

2nd Quote of the Day “It is INEXCUSABLE that a food company of this magnitude…”

 

with this much money cannot realize the responsibility it has to people who are making a life or death decision every time they go into that shop, because these allergies can take your life, and it can take them in a couple of hours or in minutes.”

— Susanna Reid, Good Morning Britain 01.10.2018

 

 

Natasha

 

 

Also Piers Morgan has some much needed words for Clive Schlee at the end of the interview.

 

 

 

 

Putting this again into “perspective” how Clive Schlee’s patronizing and self-assured response was to an open letter regarding allergen and labeling in 2015.

Not only resignation, but prosecution needs to happen here:

 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_2

 

Link to Tweet

 

Quote for larger print:

 

“Dear Alicia

I am sitting in Gatwick Airport waiting to board my flight and I have been reading your discursive open letter to Pret. I must say you do have a charming, self deprecating writing style and it was very gracious of you to mention so many good things about Pret. I am Pret’s CEO.

You also make your point about allergen information. To be honest, I am not exactly sure how to respond. I think you are telling us to train our staff better. I can’t argue with that. I think you are suggesting we treat allergens more seriously. Again, fair point. Is there anything else that you would specifically like [u]s to do?

Wish best wishes

Clive Schlee”

 

The more I read this response the more my head doesn’t stop shaking!

Is it just arrogance, feeling invincible, carelessness, what is this??! His response to me even looks stupid and foolish, like an apprentice who is trying to figure out an assignment…

The patronizing and self-assured tone of: “I must say you do have a charming, self deprecating writing style and it was very gracious of you to mention so many good things about Pret. I am Pret’s CEO.”

Alicia is supposed to get excited that THE CEO responded?

I could pick apart the whole response, but this sentence could be the end for him: “To be honest, I am not exactly sure how to respond.”

 

Hence, this second “Quote of the Day”:

It is INEXCUSABLE that a food company of this magnitude with this much money cannot realize the responsibility it has to people who are making a life or death decision every time they go into that shop, because these allergies can take your life, and it can take them in a couple of hours or in minutes.”

 

The arrogance and cowardliness of Jonathan Perkins, Pret’s Director of Risk-Taking and Complacency!

 

 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Before they mute my response to Pret’s CEO regarding Death…

 

Not good enough, Pret!! Not good enough!

Some of my tweets have been muted lately since the news broke of the girl who died (in 2016 already) from a Pret baguette due to allergy.

Before my response is deleted or muted again, here it is again.

Pret has absolutely NO excuse for this!

What I wrote in the tweet regarding “going the extra mile”, “striving for perfection”, “doing the right thing naturally”….

These are slogans, suggestions, requests and demands Pret has in place for staff. These always bothered me because Pret is not living up to their own demands.

Shortly after my brother’s death and mistreatment in the middle of grief, my suggestions since May 2015 to Pret’s HR department regarding staff treatment, especially of the bereaved have not only been ignored, but I have been bullied on top of it. Only when I involved Clive Schlee, CEO (who later labeled me his “late night girl”) did some support start, but a lot of it was to cover Pret’s own back. A lot was “Pret-entious”!

The bullying which became more subtle later on in the middle of my already traumatic bereavement have made me mentally ill with my emailing, which I extensively explain in other blog entries and how my ordeal started.

I still may be too naïve to have hopes that Pret TRULY can change direction if they put their priorities right. But I firmly believe Pret’s toxic and corrupt HR department needs a serious re-vamping in new leadership, as well as a new CEO who doesn’t just sweet-talk their way out of a disaster or tragedy when Pret gets caught “doing the wrong thing naturally”!

My response to Pret’s CEO as it may be deleted or muted like it was done with some of the other tweets:

 

2018-09-28 MY Response 2 Clive BBC2

 

Link to Tweet

 

Dear Clive Schlee and Pret,

I still have hopes that you change direction regarding work conditions, true customer care, quality of training staff to assist customers… away from your well oiled PR(et) machine and truly live up to your slogans. Not just for customers, but also  for staff, as we all are human beings, sir, not staff as work-machines and robots or customers as piggy banks for your millions.

For the sake of many who suffered to the point of even becoming suicidal, as well as for the public, that is becoming aware of the negligence in Pret which is not an isolated incidence.

Selected Quotes from staff complaints.

Sincerely,

Your Late Night Girl

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Open Letter to the “Misery” Shopper

 

Dear Mystery Shopper,

I hope you forgive me for calling you the “Misery” Shopper. That is how I often experienced you: merciless, unrealistic, arrogant and plainly non-caring. You gave us often very good comments, recognizing my hard working teams and with it also my hard work with my teams. Thank you for that. But many times I suffered deeply under your unfair comments, especially while going through bereavement with equally merciless bosses who only cared about their bonuses and reputation.

I can forgive you as you didn’t know what I and colleagues were going through, but my bosses knew and had no consideration nor care. The Mystery Shopper results count for the biggest chunk of management and OPs Manager’s bonuses, so this was the greatest pressure as well as torture, and the rewards were just too little for us teams. One manager said to me once when I was new in his shop that he closes his eyes to anything but the Mystery Shopper. In other words, he was happy for any mistakes or shortcomings, be it in the finances, health & safety etc. but was not willing to accept poor MS results. I just came from a branch where I was bullied for tiny things, and I responded to him that he should not close his eyes to anything! Of course that did not make me favourable towards bosses like him, but I wasn’t concerned! I had the loss of my brother on my mind.

And yet, even if Pret would have canceled the Mystery Shopper scheme, I would have worked exactly the same, as I love quality and giving customers the best service they deserve, not just because they pay money, but because I love people. Full stop!

 

 

Face off man-845847__340

 

 

You can only be a Mystery Shopper if you have never worked in retail or the food industry, so you would not empathize with the staff, but judge as a “proper” customer not understanding the pressures of the business. You are being instructed to be fair but firm, whereas I often looked at it hoping you would be firm but fair. You often choose to be firm. I have had outstanding comments throughout the years, including twice being commented on as having the best team yous have ever experienced. That was very kind for you to write, it didn’t help with my bosses, though, as it was never good enough, what we as the teams achieved. But that aside, it is about you in this open letter.

 

2012-10-12 MS 1

2012-10-12 MS 2

I and my teams received many comments like this throughout the years, but they have not helped me against the harshness of my line managers. It was never good enough. Towards the end of my employment in Pret I would even submit 4 pages of ideas on how to improve the Mystery Shopper and passed it on to my OPs manager. I had another 4 pages of ideas, but never submitted those as that OPs manager promised me as the Team Leader extra incentives if the Mystery Shopper results would improve (as if we needed improvement with almost always perfect scores!), but she never lived up to her promise. I delivered, but as usual left empty handed with broken promises. Another typical Pret “behaviour”, suck everything out of your staff and leave them stranded.

As with any other job, every Mystery Shopper is different, there are those who really take it serious at the same time have an eye on fairness. Others of you don’t really care too much, you come in and out so fast to just finish that job and within minutes you decide for the team to not get the bonus for whatever wasn’t right for you. Never mind them working and toiling since 5am or earlier with an angry manager giving them a good telling off later, because their bonus got even a bigger dip down.

Your job is to judge, no matter how long or short your visit. I hope you forgive me when I re-name you as the Misery Shopper as many times when the scores weren’t so good, even when we still had the bonus, the manager would give us a harsh telling off, because the managers and OPs rely on the scores to increase their bonus and competition in the areas. The Misery Shopper contributes most to their bonus and the ranking, that is why the teams get the most pressure from it.

It was particularly hard when I served you and your feedback was that I didn’t smile or that team members should not work while sick because I coughed during service. I am sure you are under the impression that the teams get paid when they are sick at home. But they aren’t paid sick-leave for the first 2 -3 days depending on age regardless if they have a sick note. Thus forcing them to go to work, cough, receive negative ratings for it and the manager gives them a hard time.

It’s a complete 100% lose-lose situation. If you stay at home because you are sick, you won’t get paid after your “well-being days” are used at the sole discretion of your manager. Also, your manager doesn’t like you being off sick, especially if you are a leader, like I was. They doubt your illness, I had that even while depressed and with a panic attack on sick leave, my manager didn’t believe me, but that’s another blog entry in itself.

If you do go to work because you need to pay your bills, the danger of serving you and receiving a bad report, and with it a telling off from your boss in the office, nothing is ever in your favour, no matter what you do.

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Quote: “Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful to smile that day.”

I didn’t feel cheerful to smile as well after the telling off from my line manager afterwards. You got told off in the office because you didn’t smile, and while the boss is telling you off (who by the way does not smile themselves, just as a side-note!) and then the non-smiling boss orders you to smile! You go out extremely humiliated, discouraged, with low motivation, and yet forced to smile if you don’t want to find yourself penalized or losing your job.

Another example of a Team Leader who complained on Twitter about being sick:

 

2018-09-13-59-staff-tweet-e1536844434384.jpg

 

 

In detail:

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

Link to tweet plus, I responded to Pret’s saying sorry, but my tweet has been deleted or is hidden somehow. But it is still on my Twitter as well as a screenshot in one of the “Quotes of the Day“. Pret of course keeps any of my tweets they may use later against me. That’s fine with me.

 

 

But I can more than relate to this Team Leader’s “review”. You are made to feel guilty when you call sick, because when you are off sick as a leader, the manager has to pull up their sleeves and work instead of just sitting in the office!

So, dear Misery Shopper, what exactly would be a cheerful occasion to smile? And you probably think that this is an exception and that surely if a team member goes through bereavement there would be empathy and understanding. Wrong again. Having to smile NON-STOP especially for 8 – 10 or more hours a day, in an intensely, excruciating and brutal work environment, and on top of that just having buried a loved one…

 

This is nothing short of developing either superhuman abilities or mental illness!

 

 

Pret Uniform2

 

I wrote it to the real Pret customers already, that I wished sometimes I would have been able to wear a badge like a pregnant woman does with the “Baby on Board” badge, or a disabled person with a “Please offer me a seat” badge. I would have needed a “Please bear with my grief” badge, as my manager was merciless when I didn’t smile, even during bereavement. When I did smile and this feedback was given in your report, my manager never acknowledged it either. Never a word of, “I know you are going through a terrible time with the loss of your brother, and you still come to work and even smiled, well done, I don’t know how you do it, but you are doing good, if you need anything, a little break to take a breath, just let me know.” … Nothing of the like. Just a telling off and you go home later wanting to end your life.

I would do this with my team members once I was aware of problems in their lives. I’d encourage them, offer them some extra break or if they need to disappear for a few minutes when I saw them in tears. But for some reason I did not receive this common human kindness from my line managers, except from only one I worked only for a few weeks when she then went on maternity leave.

I wonder, dear Mystery Shopper, if you would also be so harsh with a team member if you knew they had a loss in their life preventing them from smiling. Would you be as merciless as the managers?

I survived the bullying and harshness, I became ill and at times suicidal when I couldn’t take this brutal treatment anymore. And I know of others who became depressed, ill, suicidal. But I survived and live to tell my story, and I tell it so bluntly because the thought that I may be dead now, jumping of a bridge because of the turmoil I went through, my body still freezes when I think of the close call I’ve had!

 

Bullying can kill

 

You will continue to do your job trying to be fair but firm, I would just want to ask you to rather be firm but fair, or better even, kind and fair. The people in HQ who come up with these rules and penalties don’t care about the stress on the shop floor and in the kitchens. They know very well how difficult and cold it is, but it is not of their concern.

Your job is to feed back if the team smiled amongst other things you check on, no matter what hell they are going through. I hope you won’t be judged so hard when you go through tragedies.

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

Ex-Employee of Pret, or as I call us “Ex-Prets” 🙂 ( <<< now that’s a real smile!)

Late Night Girl2

 

A compiled list of staff complaints from various review sites, YouTube and Twitter. Selected reviews as Quotes of the Day.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

A Question on Suicide in Pret & a £1000 Announcement

 

I am aware that this is a “handful”, but bear with the below and please look deeper to know what really is going on behind some announcements.

 

I write so “blunt” because I almost lost my life.

 

Pret is recruiting, and £1000 is the carrot. Pret minus Bridgepoint + the German JAB Holding Company based in Luxembourg = Pret has arrived in tax haven!

Pret’s leadership became aware of my blog and website here on the 28th into the 29th May 2018. The CEO of Pret tweeted the below at night on the 29. May, probably as a reaction to my blog? As I don’t believe in coincidence anymore and as Pret is mainly reacting to issues when confronted.

I almost lost my life working in Pret, having been bullied during bereavement and with all the tricks, traps and gaslighting the toxic HR department dealt me with. I wasted my sweat, blood and tears for close to 10 years in this company, making the mistake to try and improve work conditions while being completely traumatised in grief and mistreatment. Having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life.

 

An assistant manager died by suicide in 2017 after I was told by HR of an AM who was also bereaved and mistreated at work like I was. I almost ended my life as well. And Natasha having died in 2016, but we only learn about this two years later… HOW MANY MORE ARE THERE?!

 

——————————————————

UPDATE

07. Oct. 2018: Pret a Manger investigates second death linked to sandwich

——————————————————

 

Pret’s slogan of “Doing the right thing naturally” is just another of the many slogans to crank up the PR(et) machine. But in reality, this is what Pret does “naturally” behind the shiny facade: Pret Staff Complaints collected from various Employment Review websites, YouTube and Twitter, as well as my own traumatic experience.

 

 

 

The CEO working the PR(et) machine after my blog was revealed to him:

 

 

12K vs 20K

 

It used to take 10 years of service in Pret to receive £1000. If Pret is giving all their staff £1000 it means they are desperate to recruit or desperate to counter my public outcry regarding staff treatment.

The CEO pockets £30 million, and then giving £1000 (from the sale, not his £30 mil!) to each employee as Brexit is at the door and many, especially Eastern European workers return to their home countries or move on to other opportunities. Several of my ex-colleagues already told me of their plans to return home. Usually Pret gives cheap cakes to their shops when another financial milestone was reached, over-sugared cakes that end up half-eaten and stale in the shop fridges. But this generosity means Brexit is advancing fast and my publication is a sore in their sight. New recruits are needed and the facade needs another polishing shine.
Also, to announce the £1000 ahead of the deal being finalized, as usually rewards are given after a deal or a milestone has been reached not before, is nothing short of interesting.

 

On 12th September 2018 and beyond the shops are still waiting for this announcement from three months prior to become reality:

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement

 

 

A month before that someone already inquired about it:

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement2

 

 

UPDATES:

 

2018-09-30 1000

 

 

2018-09-30 1000 JAB

 

 

Well, I’m delighted to have been part in Pret’s CEO making this premature announcement on 29th May when he became aware of my public outcry regarding my ordeal and staff treatment in general. The JAB deal will go through and the money will flow, but the work conditions will get worse as there is now much much more money in the purchase involved. How many more people, customers and staff alike will pay the price for this greed @ Clive Schlee, how many more that we don’t even know about?

 

When the bullying started, or rather continued during grief adding to my trauma, I became ill. There were no appraisals where I could learn where I was strong or where I can improve, never a reward, no feedback, absolutely nothing. Only targeting, bullying and manipulation were standard. One later GM’s tactic was to hold me low while I was going through the worst time, being vulnerable, having had the floor underneath my feet ripped away. This kind of “leadership” is common in Pret. This GM, who didn’t want “the area to feel sorry for him anymore” because I was thrust into his shop in the middle of trauma, grievance hearings and under shock, was one of the worst management experiences I worked with because it was very subtle bullying hard to put ones finger on until it was too late.

I became ill and wrote countless emails which I explain in detail here. One of my last line managers just laughed about it with the leadership team, the CEO labeled me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, the Head of HR tried 4 times to pay me out (peanuts) if I resign, and the peak came when the gaslight really took on full swing as described below…
There is no protection against the discrimination of the bereaved and mentally ill in Pret A Manger.

 

 

2018-09-16 Re Emily to Pret

Link to Tweet

 

 

Wasting 10 years of my life in a company that is only profit and target driven with extreme good PR in place and a smiling, approachable CEO who is fully aware of what’s going on in his company as he visits the shop floor regularly, Pret-ending everything is jolly good while lulling in the public and staff. Grievance hearing after grievance hearing that I raised in my traumatic state were conducted in tricky ways, not impartial.

For three years I approached HR and managers with suggestions and ideas on how to improve support for bereaved staff. I had a target on my back from the moment I approached HR informally to bring suggestions in May 2015. I was naive, fooled and in the darkest time of my life. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was the beginning of the end for me. It is no wonder that hardly anyone approaches HR in this systemic and toxic work environment in society today.

 

Pret has become like the majority of multinational corporations mistreating their workforce, especially in the fast-food industry. One former Assistant Manager “pleads” with Pret to return to the basics, a General Manager pleads to “Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory” and poignantly says of Pret being “a great company in risk of ruin”. But I think these concerns and pleas may be too late as once a company licks blood of the Millions and Billions that are made, it’s like an addiction that is hard to beat. And now with the JAB takeover, it’s a point of no return.

Being bullied during bereavement and all the mistreatment from superiors towards workers, Pret is moving more and more towards the jungle and swamp of Amazon that is notorious for their brutal bullying tactics. The only difference is that Pret is excellent in PR and still relatively small in this corporate world of greed, lulling the public and staff in with sweet-talk. And in-between they throw in a £1000 carrot for each employee to polish up their facade.

Word PR.Isolated on white background.3d rendered illustration.

The most disgraceful thing they have done was to “introduce” me to a development manager who supposedly had a similar loss with her brother, but our introduction was not to support me (or her), it was for her to give me a disciplinary for all my emailing (electronic communication) and then entering into secret solely electronic communication (text and email), confusing and frustrating me further that my ill emailing behaviour intensified again. This was gaslighting in a nutshell.

I was then dismissed just 5 months short of my 10 years service where I also would have received £1000, the development manager of course is safe in her job as she served them well. Pret went all the way in “doing the right thing naturally” again by firing me three days after Christmas 2017 while my father was in intensive care just out of a coma! Again, the toxic HR department “doing the right thing naturally” two months after Clive Schlee labeled me his “late night girl”, patronizing me in his typical self-assured arrogance.

 

On 02. Oct. 2018 staff are still waiting for the bonus. And my Tweets have since been deleted by Twitter, also called “shadow banned”.

 

1000 announcement still waiting 2018-10-02b

Link

 

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

 

When you read that all staff now receive £1000, whereas before it would take 10 years to receive £1K it shows how desperate Pret is to gain and retain staff. I was never after money and have declined 4 offers of settlement, not only because of the peanuts they offered. Not even a million pounds would have done it, because I don’t prostitute my values or sign away my rights for money, no matter the amount.

 

@Pret, too many people suffer, become depressed, even suicidal that someone needs to stand up and tell their story! Does Pret, does Clive Schlee really believe that a £1000 and all the sweet-talk will hold up this facade in the long-run? Staff will take the money, but the truth cannot be bought, held under and sugar-coated forever.

 

I was ONE, you were and are many, you have all the resources, sophistication (bottom page), manpower, money and whatever you can come up with. You still refuse to acknowledge how out of proportion this was and is. No amount of money could have fixed this.

To be entrenched in this system that you probably don’t even realize how wrong so much of how you, as a GROUP of influential professionals have acted towards ONE single person, and indeed everyone on the “front-lines” of the business, who are the ones making you all this wealth. Sure, you seem desperate to recruit now being suddenly so generous to all staff. Don’t turn too socialistic now, though, it doesn’t come across as genuine!

Do you know the hope I felt when I met a person of similar loss, as my grief became so complicated, and still is? And then to just find out after a while that this was yet another trick!? Again? Gaslighting at its best. If Pret truly takes inventory of their conscience, they would have to face that this absolutely crossed the line! They stepped one too many times on my dignity. And that one nailed it!

I survived to speak about it openly and I will never be silent, no matter what you come up with out of your trick-box from a corrupt and discriminating HR department.

It would be good to heed this reviewer’s advice to management from June 2018: Fire the HR staff because a £1000 quick fix won’t do it, the reviews from Pret staff on Employment Review websites and other online platforms will continue on these lines and crack the PR(et) machine until Pret truly lives up to its slogans and words. The annual staff questionnaire Pret holds won’t help as they are tweaked at times by shop management. The truth will always come to light sooner or later.

And maybe, just maybe instead of firing all the hardworking people who work with integrity and commitment in the high stress environment, the top leadership with its top HR leaders may need to get a dose of their own medicine, and get fired for a change to really turn this company into what they claim it to be.

 

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Song of the Day #1 – “Don’t Pick a Fight

 

With A Poet”

— Madeleine Peyroux

 

 

bird-feather-2505307_960_720

 

 

 

I re-wrote the lyrics
— Late Night Girl

 

When you’re working in a chain,
where your bosses give you pain,
make you want to start a big fight,
’cause they talk as if they’re so right.
There is one thing to remember,
in case you haven’t heard:
You can sack another staff member,
but you cannot smite a word.

 

 

So, don’t pick a fight with a poet.
Don’t hide behind your PR.
Whether it’s wrong or it’s right,
there’s a lesson in life,
and to learn it, you need to listen up,
cause staff’s had enough of this crap.
When you treated me so poor,
I almost died but I came through,
and you want to prove me all wrong,
you think you are so strong.
You can try to make them listen.

You used to be my boss,
but the survivor is the one
who recovers from their loss.
So, don’t pick a fight with a griever.
Don’t corrupt the hearings for our gain.
Whether it is wrong or it’s right,
there’ll be a lesson tonight,
and to learn it keep turning the page,
’cause a poet knows, that ink will never age.
Over here on the screen with a Customer’s grin
making rhyme out of broken lives
cryin’ the hymn.
And memories from good times,
clicking away free coffees and treats,
congregating the world
with a keyboard and tweets.
Don’t pick a fight with a traumatized person.
Don’t raise your voice against them.
Once they have nothing to lose,
there’s only truth to choose,
and to accept it, you’ll have to return,
to the basics of kindness to win … again.

 

 

blur-blurred-book-46274

 

 

 

 

Doing the Late Night Girl Thing Naturally!

 

P.S. to the readers who collect, please remember copyright.

 

Late Night Girl2

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Quote of the Day #59 – Pret A Anger

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

 

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet3

 

2nd July 2018 Leader Tweet NOTE: This tweet is visible but not the initial Tweet from Pret’s CEO, except when I am logged in to my Twitter as many of my tweets are “shadow banned” (Please google shadow banning – secret censorship).

 

Quote of the day:

 

“!!!! … !!!!! … !!!!!!!! … !!!”

 

— and —

 

“…go work with fever 40 degree because nobody can cover me as leader made me undervalued I was very depressed !!!!the management give to me a lot pressure complaints about because I was calling sick I asked help but nobody help me out to change shop… I have infection of my livers because expired dates food is not been checked properly dates nobody following standards… I’m surrendered because I chose health and my mental well-being…”

 

Translating this very common problem in Pret:

She is overworked, not appreciated, over pressured and can’t even take off sick because there is no leader to cover her. Management is either swamped themselves or don’t care as both situations I have experienced time and time again and many others complain about in what I compiled onto one page from different Employment Review websites and YouTube.

There is no time to do one of the most important things, which is to check for any items that went out of date. I have experienced this countless times, I did the date checks, then my boss came to work and started having a go at me for why I haven’t done anther job… If you do the other job, the boss has a go at you for why you didn’t do the date check! So, after a long time of bullshit like this, I prioritized with what the most important health and safety issue is and this was my argument when I was rebuked again.I said this many times, even while working in Pret when my colleagues were frustrated about the harsh leadership, I likened what Pret is doing with the metaphor of binding the feet of the employees and then demand for them to run! No matter which direction you stumbled, it was always wrong!

There is no proper training, no proper leadership, standards are low and this Team Leader is trying her utmost best to keep up standards and try to work as best under the circumstances. She finally decided to “surrender” (give up, quit) by tweeting this, maybe leaving Pret, maybe she was placed in a better shop so she won’t openly complain anymore.

One hint of this trend throughout the company is in this staff review, of cutting staff to maximize profits, but then the health and safety of staff and customers are compromised. Quote, “Either stop cutting hours or stop giving teams a ridiculous amount of tasks to complete.”

My experience with the bullying during my loss and trauma in 2015 came to its peak, which I describe extensively in another blog entry about how I was bullied and gaslighted which I named Pret A Manipulate. I was one of those Team Leaders as well, like this Leader in the Tweet here, who took my job very serious. In the shop where my ordeal was the most painful and scariest, there were no morning date checks done, only evening checks. So, when an item was found out of date, the evening Leader was penalized even though the standard was to do a morning date check, but that standard was not followed. I always stressed this to my Leader colleagues to do the morning date checks, and not just tick off the box in the daily date check list lying that the checks were done. They always said that there was no time, and I stressed again that we need to find the time as this is one of the most crucial tasks for health and safety reasons.

One evening I did miss to take out 1 (ONE!) Lemon Cheese Cake that would expire by the end of that day. I saw it in my evening checks that I did hours before closing time. I even circled it on the date check sheet for me to remember to later take it off the fridge and waste it, so it won’t be on the shelf the next day out of date. I even remembered that I checked again when we closed the shop at closing time, but I didn’t see it anymore. I assumed we sold it and I was delighted not to have to waste food and money, as this is a more expensive item to waste.

But the area manager who targeted me for months for little things did one of her checks the next day, which was my day off (interesting she did the check on my day off!) and she found that ONE Lemon Cheese Cake. Long story short, she tried to penalize me, wanting to put me on targets etc. while in reality a colleague of mine left multiple items out of date in the fridges and was known for his poor working conduct by all colleagues. At one point he left about 40 – 50 items that were out of date in the fridges in ONE night, which I then found on my next morning shift and during the checks couldn’t believe how many items I had to pull off the shelves! Also, as there were no morning date checks, which is standard, but in that shop no-one except me was doing the morning double check, I was still the one she wanted to put on performance targets! I realized very quickly that she was targeting me.

But it backfired on her when I found the 40 – 50 items a few days later, communicating this to her and asking her for a meeting to speak about why I am being treated so harsh for little mistakes while I worked my butt off DURING the darkest time of my life having lost my brother. From then on she tried to get rid of me, shifting me around shops and using other managers to target me further. I realized very quickly that ANYTHING, the smallest thing can be used against a person if someone is out to target them. From this time onward the rota was adjusted to include the standard morning date checks!

 

Anger.jpg

 

This among the many other mistreatment I share on my blog, made me so paranoid, mentally ill, and I still now suffer from panic attacks. For a regular person who isn’t going through trauma or bereavement this would be already a nightmare to deal with, but I was in the middle of dark grief and had to also be dealing with poor, terrible management like this. I felt like I was stumbling through a war zone in a mine field, being shot at from different sides trying to desperately get out this mess!

I almost ended my life and this is why I write so passionately about my Pret experience, because people become mentally and/or physically unwell at best and suicidal at worst.

In a drunken stupor I write my anger in Tweets and on my blog at times, trying to still come to terms, and I am not proud of it, but I will never ever be silent about what I have been through in the middle of grief and trauma, which was then added by repeated mistreatment, manipulation, gaslighting in Pret A Manger.

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Darkness, Trauma, Work without Pay

 

always_smile

 

There is a British company that named itself “Ready To Eat”, or better known for its foreign branding term: Pret A Manger.

British food is not known to be the most culinary experience one can lick their fingers to, especially in the 1980s. So, a French name had to help to draw to its “cuisine”.

Many PR(et) slogans later the facade keeps shining, as the slogans are so many and offensive to their hard working people.

Over three years ago on 12. January 2015 I learned through an ice cold email that my brother has been found dead in his flat on 15. December 2014. He lay in his apartment for approximately 6 days before the neighbours smelled the odour of his corpse.

Police supposedly tried to find next of kin, but weren’t successful in the efficient country of Germany! They then just cremated my brother and all the other nightmare things they have done. They did NO autopsy, finding no clear cause of death. The city council sent his urn from his city via the POSTAL SERVICE to the city council in the town where my mum lives. They destroyed his belongings that had no value and sold the things that had value because he was in debt…

I could look at this as if this was a twisted Hollywood script that no producer wants to finance. But if that nightmare wasn’t enough I had to go into Alice Wonderlandish-nightmare…

UPDATE: Only recently I stumbled on a YouTube video where a similar thing happened to an American family. Son/brother died unbeknown to them and was cremated without their consent. I am still in search of legal advise myself how to proceed even while friends say I should let it go … But I am torn and not sure how I can cope mentally without much support to investigate myself further, without just putting my own puzzle together and if the police can be made responsible …

 

From the get go I was an inconvenience in Pret for which I worked 7 years at the time, 10 years altogether. The first 5 months during bereavement I was put on mainly late shifts which kept me from seeing friends during a nightmare I cannot describe!

I was then transferred at my request to a shop to have rotating shifts, but there the bullying really started.

In May 2015 I approached Pret’s HR department informally to make suggestions on how to support bereaved employees. What I didn’t realize then was that I put a bulls eye target on my back, as the People Business Partner who was present at the meeting, was involved in targeting me later on. I only understand now that People Business Partners are there for business, nothing else.

 

What staff really think.

 

I am tired to explain what went on for three years. Really really tired.
@Pret, your silence won’t help you.

I started my website initially as poetrasblok.com which is still running under this name and was solely for my brother. But the trauma I have been through in Pret and being patronized and labelled by Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret as his “late night girl” made me decide to speak openly about what I’ve been through.

My site will eventually turn back again on my brother, my father who died in March, my family, friends and passions I have with writing and music. But for now, as the public is lulled in by the PR[et] facade and I almost lost my life in Pret, after being bullied during the worst time of my life. I cannot be silent.

 


 

UPDATE 15.10.2018

A staff member confronted Pret on Twitter openly, this is only one example happen to become public and the cut & paste response from the Pret-Tweet employee (probably HR). I gave my own responses and suggested for him to join a Union. I know exactly how it is when managers “forget” to pay you, happened so frequently, at times putting me into rent arrears and other stressful situations having to raise this with HR which in turn put a target on my back with the line manager. No matter how you turned, you were at the losing end. And Clive Schlee is counting his £30 Million + and the £1000 “Pay Rise” for all staff that they are still waiting for is exactly what it is, PR.

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks3

 

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

 

Link to Tweet

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

How I became a Late Night Girl

 

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret A Manger stepped on my dignity, patronizing me by calling me his “late night girl” two months before Pret fired me while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma. Why he labeled me this I explain on my blog here in detail. I adopted this “label” to be a sore in Pret’s sight, in hopes they will never do to employees again what they’ve done to me.

 

18-tk-ca-2012.jpg

 

On 12. January 2015 I woke up and checked my email while still in bed blurry-eyed. Bed, the most vulnerable and safe place to be in. I had late shift that week and thought I quickly check my mail before turning around to sleep some more and later go to work.

I found myself making the fastest jump out of bed I’ve ever made, but that jump felt like slow motion, as if I got stuck in mid air and my room was moving by me in an eerie pace. The light painted wall became fogged up like someone just poured a dust-like grey powder over it. When I landed on my feet, I felt like a deformed cartoon character out of a Tom & Jerry fighting scene, who got whacked over the head and entered into another world. But it was more like a shotgun hole in my gut, something ripped life out of my system and left a huge crater behind.

My bedroom wasn’t my bedroom anymore, my apartment wasn’t my apartment anymore, my mind wasn’t my mind anymore. It was just like it feels when you return from a two or three week trip to a different country and culture, returning home and your place has a different feel to it, a stale atmosphere because you’ve gotten used to a different place, food, impressions, language.

Of course your apartment or house is still the same, it’s just you who has to readjust to the familiar and safe place you know so well and fill it with life again. But for me it was like I’ve come “home” to hell. It was the beginning of a very long and dark time in that world, which I am still standing in with one foot, while the other foot is trying to venture out to find green pastures.

In a 6 or 7 sentence email the sender went down a quick and short route to inform me that my brother has been found dead in his flat on the 15. December 2014. Next of kin could not be found in time (in a country as efficient as Germany!). Cause of death not clear, no autopsy, he lay dead for an estimated 6 days plus/minus before he was found, and then they just cremated him before finding us!

[After I flew over the next day to personally – not over the phone! – bring my mum the death of her son she gave life to, we arranged for his urn to be brought over from the city where he lived in. To our utter disbelief they sent his urn via post to the city’s council where my mum lives, so we can bury whatever was left of my brother close to my mum. Another German procedure I didn’t know was even done like this, sending an urn via post?!]

Furthermore I was advised to reject the inheritance as his estate was highly in debt, which also meant I learned later that I could not retrieve any of his belongings and was informed later that any belongings with no financial value has been destroyed…

The email ended with some other instructions. Kind regards.

My phone became like a curse in my hand that I could not understand that this was a phone I was holding, just starring at it, reading an electronic mail giving me a message of death.

I died that day.

 

 

 

07 TP crop

 

When Machines Bring You Death

 

A Plea!

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Broke

 

Old_New_InvertedColours

8yrs    |    35yrs

 

In memory of my big brother Thomas 25.02.1969 ~ 09.12.2014 whose death has not been investigated properly by a lousy, indifferent police department; whose day of death could only be estimated; whose 3 cats survived in his flat while he lay dead for approx. 6 days before he was found; whose corpse they just cremated without our consent; whose passing we didn’t know for 5 weeks; and whose death I was delayed to grieve in peace while working in a bullying company in Pret A Manger under a toxic and corrupt leadership, surviving a hostile work environment.

 

I still dance like this…

 

 

Broke

Ft. Poem: Emily Dickinson “To know just how He suffered would be dear”
Ft. Music: Dark Dark Dark “Something For Myself”

 

To know just how He suffered – would be dear
I want to hold you
To know if any Human eyes were near
what happened to you?


To whom He could entrust His wavering gaze
couldn’t find a way out of this endless maze?

Until it settle broad – on Paradise
my lights went out

 

To know if He was patient – part content
I’m a mess, you know

Was Dying as He thought – or different
can we rewind and find the switch?

Was it a pleasant Day to die
what day was it?

And did the Sunshine face his way
what hour of the day?

 

What was His furthest mind – Of Home or God
something you always sought

Or what the Distant say
I was here, not there

At news that He ceased Human Nature
at news
I ceased

Such a Day
such a day 

 

And Wishes – Had He Any
wish ! was there

Just His Sigh – Accented
breathless shocks unanswered

Had been legible – to Me
too blind to see

And was He Confident until
no one could

Ill fluttered out – in Everlasting Well
find the everlasting will

And if He spoke – What name was Best
that belongs to you

What last
belongs to you

What One broke off with
our hearts broke

At the Drowsiest
no knock on the door

Was He afraid – or tranquil
a fighter still

Might He know
one showed

How Conscious Consciousness – could grow
you knew more than I

Till Love that was – and Love too best to be
missed you

Meet – and the Junction be Eternity
why am I still this side of it?

(So, I dance like this
for me …

Cats
don’t pull me in
let me breathe
don’t like to be)

 

Text: »To Know Just How He Suffered—Would Be Dear« Emily Dickinson, 1863 + »Broke« poetrasblok.com, 2015

Music: “something for myself” Dark Dark Dark, 2011

 

Emily Dickinson handwriting To know just how

Emily Dickinson’s handwriting »To Know Just How He Suffered—Would Be Dear«, 1863

 

©2015/2018 poetrasblok.com 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, expret.org, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, expret.org, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

I am Tired

 

Tired to convince even close friends

who hide under a protective blanket

of indifference to suffering

that some things are just

plainly wrong and unacceptable

Since January 2015

my life is nothing but loss

The last 3+ years my life

is like sand running through my fingers

I have become like an outcast

I am not a desired guest at

Christmas dinners

or birthday parties

or walks in the park

On 12. January 2015 I learned

via a cold email

that my brother was found dead

in his flat

on 15. December 2014

I learned in one email

that they couldn’t find next of kin

that they cremated him

that his flat has been emptied

that he had debt

that his belongings that had no value

were destroyed

We received a box with paperwork

photos, ID cards, letters…

memories

A Box

An Urn

A Hell

Everything else,

every fibre of my brother

Gone

I went to work

to the funeral

to my family

on my shock

on my anger

on my loss

on trying to understand

how an efficient German system

can mess up like this?

I worked hard to find answers

I went to work in Pret A Manger

that worked hard in return

to get rid of me

tricking and trapping me

from beginning to end

I became an inconvenience

that needed to be discarded

like a broken machine

Since January 2015

I lost my brother in December

I lost friends

I lost my mind

I lost my job

I buried my dad

I am losing my mum to dementia

I have lost my mental health

I have lost trust in systems

any system

I have lost faith in workplaces

with their slick slogans and PR

mistreating their workers

for gain

fooling the public

for gain

again

I have lost faith in words

that are not backed with deeds

I have lost confidence in leadership

that should not be called “leadership”

but mis-leadership!

“leaders” who don’t understand what

it means to lead,

but who follow their own

selfish gain

Leaders who are captains

of ships but jump ship

first when it sinks

leaving a multitude

of passengers to

fend for themselves

I have lost confidence in the police

who don’t care to investigate properly

I have lost hope in “charity”

that is just big business

using poor people

and little children

to raise money

And politicians?

Don’t get me started!

I am tired of people

being overwhelmed with

my story

I am tired of those

blaming me for not

copying well

I am tired of excuses

that this society

can’t handle grief

and loss

I am tired that professionals

can’t deal with ONE person

right in front of them

I lost the sun

but I know it shines

I lost my taste for life

but I know I live

I lost the fear of my

friends’ anger

whose silent appeal,

that I lost my way

my person,

deafens me

I may be mentally out-of-sync

but I have a voice

that needs to be heard

I may have postponed

my ability to quickly

forgive

but I have a message

that is still not known

And if no one else speaks out

I still have a beating heart

willing to volunteer

I have lost fear

of bullying

by a company who prides

itself in smiles and

customer service

on the backs of hardworking

people of integrity

I am not paralyzed anymore

under fear management

I am not intimidated

by powerful people

whose only “courage” it is

to step on those

who are already broken

on the ground

I am tired

but I will never be silent again

nor give up

nor believe the voices of

indifference and complacency

that this is just the norm

This is NOT the norm

this is WRONG!

 

— Late Night Girl

 

In memory of my brother, Thomas whose death I was robbed to grieve in peace and timely manner.

 

Hand Sunflowers pexels-photo-1287103

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Squint – & – The Cut

 

Saturday Mix, 4 August 2018!

This week we are seeing double with ‘Double Take’.

The ‘Double Take’ challenge focuses on the use of homophones* to build your writing piece. You have two sets of homophones and you are challenged to use all of them in your response – which can be poetry or prose.

Our homophone sets this week are:

heal – to cure of disease
heel – hind part of foot
he’ll – contraction of “he will”

and

lain – past tense of lay
lane – narrow road

 

I have 2 and just put them on one page:

 

Squint”

 

She lived way too long in the fast lane

busy with life, work, stress and activities

rat racing away

from her home country

 

It was time to catch up in person

not just through the line and

via a machine

 

When she invited him for a gig

close to his town

she firmly expected he’d come

as he emailed that he’ll

have a look at his schedule,

a ticket was even booked

but he couldn’t make it

 

Some months later she learned

that he has lain for days

not able to heal

 

She lost track,

went on a free fall

and has been on life’s heel

ever since

not seeing clear anymore

 

 

0ae2b4a2fd6512bff7d9b5068a5aace7

 

 

The Cut”

Thinking he’ll heal after the injury to his heel when he was lain in the lane after the flame erupted in the plane. But they had to amputate.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

When His Ash was Still Warm

 

I must have been asleep
or working in the heated environment
of Pret A Manger
where there is no break from
customers
or bullying managers

My brother’s ashes must have just
come out of the furnace
when I had lunch, maybe?
Or was I at a concert?

I know that I was at a gig of
Piers Faccini on the 8th Dec. 2014
in London
a day before my brother
supposedly died + – a day or so
in Germany

I got a letter from court
two days ago
from the court in the city
where my family lives
reminding me after their
initial letter from April
to inform them
of my brother’s address
to be informed
of my dad’s last will
that he made 30 years ago
when we were kids

And I’m still thinking
why I am so fooled to believe
in a German system of efficiency
and registry

And I want to burn my German ID card
as it is of no use to find next of kin
should I just be burned after leaving

I decided not to answer the court
that wasted their postage on me
because they are the Law
they are a court
that need to get up and
investigate properly

My brother’s ashes are cold now
and I have come accustomed to
the tough soil
after 3+ years
that I was burning in grief
after I heard the news
and desperately trying
to unburn him
while being chased
and shoved around
abandoned
and torched with scorn
left on the wayside
at Pret A Manger

And I have nothing to give
not even a thought

My mind is empty
of any thought

 

 
©2018 poetrasblok.com 

 

 

Bild010_Neg.Nr.11

 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Closure

 

When you lose someone to death, especially if it is a significant or premature, untimely death, and a death with unclear causes not investigated thoroughly, you will never get closure. You will have to learn to live with this loss and go through a hell you never imagined existed. You cannot speak to the person who died and say one last time Good-bye – or – I love you – or – Sorry I didn’t answer your last email, check your mail please, I sent you my response now – or – What happened to you that you just died like that? – or – Could I have done something? Did I miss something? – or – Will I see you again? – or – I’ll be fine, just look after yourself ………..

There is no closure. The door of grief will remain open for the rest of your life, it will cease in intensity with time, but it will never close. The shock and trauma that hits you out of no-where like a wrecking ball, and the can of worms it opens where existential fears, unanswered questions, foundational doubts of life and purpose, and every nightmare scenario crawl out and haunt you. Or as a German saying describes it better that when unforeseen events or tragedy hits you, a “rat’s tail” of events and complications will be attached to it, that you cannot get rid of.

 

Rat shutterstock_490066927_rat

 

It’s not just grief you’re dealing with, it becomes much more complicated as the floor underneath you is ripped away, the friends you thought you have disappear, the beliefs you built your life upon become like sand running through your fingers, your mind turns into a mine field where every thought becomes an explosive danger of anger, fear, self-doubt, and the desire to explode out of this life and join the one(s) you lost.

You just have to live through it, as someone I can’t remember who, once said that, “If you’re going through hell, keep going” the light at the end of the tunnel will appear eventually, just keep going through it, keep walking, don’t stop, don’t give up…

But this kind of closure of loss of life and the dark grief it brings is not what I am talking about. The kind of closure I sought since my ordeal started, was to get closure for having additional “heat” being poured on me while I was already in hell! The heat of systemic workplace bullying and the aim to get rid of me early in my trauma, even though I worked extremely well and even during the scorching heat of grief. I gave my sweat, blood and tears to a company who returned my labour with scorn, distance, coldness, scheming, blaming, excuses, additional burdens that almost crushed me beyond repair.

I was just a number, a dirty paper cup that needed to get discarded when it started to “leak” its grief and pain, while still working flawlessly in many areas, helping to bring results to shop after shop after shop. I had no value, was of no use, an inconvenience, a burden, a nuisance, a piece of trash that needed to get thrown on a pile of other useless cups that served their purpose.

 

Rubbish Paper Cups2

 

It became even further complicated as the tactics were very clever to avoid responsibility. In my fog of grief I even apologized for many things that I didn’t need to apologize for! But this served them well where they often turned the situation around making me feel like I was the problem, like I was the one who created the problem, while it was ridiculously the opposite! When you are in shock and trauma, you cannot see as clear and cannot see the hand in front of you, like if you were crawling with your car through the thickest fog in winter, expecting to hit a car in front of you or being hit from behind just trying desperately to get out of this mess.

The closure I would have wished for, but know it is wishful thinking, is the closure where Pret A Manger would have the backbone to apologize, not just for their “insensitivity” as the CEO put it, because he did apologize AFTER I apologized first for my traumatic rants that I started after repeatedly approaching HR for months, to make suggestions in how to support me and people like me who are bereaved. His apology that was sandwiched into patronizing sentences. A typical Pret sandwich of belittling and patronizing.

I would have wished for an apology for repeatedly being put under suppressive management to get me under control, so I become quiet again like I was before, obedient and following a toxic leadership style that silences people through fear management.

 

Rat pexels-photo-617440

 

An apology for the systemic bullying and suppressive culture in shop after shop, no matter if the staff is already suffering from personal loss or any tragedy.

An apology for the refusal to be open to all the suggestions and resources available that I made the effort to seek out and bring forward, to no avail. Pret A Manger = Ready to Eat! It was all there, right in front of them, presented like on a Pret silver platter, suggestion after suggestion, link after link after resources after ideas… a waste of time and energy.

An apology for offending me, not only by offering settlement agreements if I resign and be silent about my ordeal, but having a laugh by offering peanuts while I lost all my savings after my brother died, and trying to take advantage of my financial strain. Offering peanuts as if I was a person who can be bribed with, what for Pret are pennies. No, thank you! I am not for sale nor do I prostitute my values to anyone, no matter what amount is offered.

An apology for the greatest perverted act in all of this, the sick audacity of having tasked a Development Manger who lost her brother similar to how I lost mine to sanction me. Not to put us into contact to support each other in our common grief, which would have been a massive help and step forward; but instead using her to give me a disciplinary for my electronic messaging and her allowing her dignity to be stepped upon like that!

And if this wasn’t enough, an apology for her then entering into secret electronic messaging, traumatizing me more as this “support” was fake and the hopes of someone understanding my bereavement was taken away again. How toxic, disrespectful and perverse can it get?! What else is Pret capable of?!

An apology for then dismissing me in my trauma and ill behaviour that was further fueled by the Development Manager’s secret conduct with the blessing of HR and her being excused and protected in her conduct.

An apology for the scheming and plannings of the HR department with certain key people involved since my informal approach of HR in May 2015.

An apology for stepping on my dignity, having become ill and the hopelessness and anxieties if I ever get my mental health back.

An apology for the CEO belittling me calling me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, minimizing my ill emailing for which I got dismissed two months later!

An apology for dismissing me while my father was in intensive care just woken from a coma, thrusting me into a new hell I am going through.

An apology for the silence at my outcry in the hopes that the brilliant PR will make this go away.

I want an apology for having been robbed of the time to grieve my brother.

I want Pret A Manger to apologize for robbing me of time to come to terms.

I want the CEO to not skip out silently, but take responsibility!

There is no closure until dealt with in true integrity and a hard look at the core and foundation of Pret A Manger. If true values are not lived and visible, if slogans only serve as phrases to lull in the public and staff to present a shiny facade, the foundation will crumble eventually.

With loss to death there is no closure, but with events that happen while alive, there can be closure.

Until then, there will be no closure.

 

Late Night Girl2

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

When I nailed my Voice to the Air

was when their voice
became silent

But

I don’t believe in silence”
Because, tonight —
however I try — I cannot get downstairs
without waking my daughter
I do not believe in silence.

because of the Worboys enquiry,
because of the one hundred-plus women he raped —
because of the policeman defending the findings
unable to utter the word —
‘this (herrrrm) crime, this (ahem)
assault, this category (cough)
category of offence’ —
I do not believe in silence

because of the stairs and the banister’s crack;
the sound of the lock
and my hand on the door — the fifty-tone creak —
the magnificent echo of light-switch and click —
I do not believe in silence.

Because of Neda — and everyone’s sister —
and the man who said `Don’t be afraid’;
for the sake of my daughter, because of the burka,
because of the patter of rain;
because of two hundred thousand years of human history,
thirty-seven of them my own —
I do not believe in silence

for the sake of my arms, the wrists especially.
With respect to my legs
and my belly and chest
and the comfort long due to my throat

Because of nightclubs at one a.m.
and shouts in the street and feet in pursuit
and shops that don’t shut;

because of sirens and the dealers downstairs;
because of Levi and Akhmatova;
because of the blue-lipped prisoner;
the itch and the scratch of my pen;

I believe in the word.
I believe in the scrabble of claws
on uncarpeted floors.
I believe in my daughter’s complaints.
I believe in the violin, the E-string,
the see-sawing bow; the cello
straining its throat.

I believe in the heart and its beat
and its beep and the dance of the trace
on the screen, I believe in the volume
of colour turned up, and my blood
which was always too loud.

Because of the nights, and the sweats,
and the same rowdy thoughts;
because that one afternoon
when I nailed my own voice to the air
and because there was nobody listening and through it all
birdsong
and the sound of cars passing —

I do not believe in silence.
— Clare Shaw

 

Because of all the mistreatment

and bullying hard working people

especially those

who already suffer in bereavement

I do not believe in silence

Dear Pret,
I want to say to your leadership that your silence will not serve as a distraction to avoid being made responsible for your actions.
I do not believe in silence any longer.

 

silhouette-3265766__340

 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying

 

There are always numbers floating around in the news on the economical costs for work-related illnesses caused by stress and bullying. Those numbers go into the millions and billions each year. But I want to stay away from quoting any numbers, as I don’t know for sure how high the financial cost for this is or where the media gets these statistics from. And handling abstract numbers like this doesn’t really magnify the cause and true human cost behind it. I can speak only from my experience first hand and also from my observation and conversations on how colleagues are/were treated. The cost I am concentrating on, apart from mental illness and personal financial loss, is the cost of life itself.

Workplace bullying costs lives, and on that no amount or number is adequate enough to cover the costs as a life lost cannot be recovered. Once life is gone, it is gone. Health can be regained, financial loss can be won again, but once life is gone, that’s it, point of no return. Keep your numbers, keep counting your money, and keep hiding the consequences of workplace bullying under the carpet.

pexels-photo-551588

My aim is not just to raise awareness of workplace bullying, as so many do already, and to find ways to stop it as best as I can in my sphere of influence, and make companies rethink their approach and value their employees and understand true leadership. My aim is to really take a closer look at a system in this day and age that is epidemic worldwide in this globalization we find ourselves in where huge companies imitate and apply what made other companies rich or what is so commonly called “successful”.

If I look at the conflicts in the world, the big ones and the small ones, wars, unrest, uprisings, legal battles, cyber attacks, workplace inequality etc. etc. It all has a common thread running through its core: class war and the struggle for dominance. Ian Hodson, a person who represents true leadership, points this out in one of his speeches. And to me, having worked with too many poor “leaders” that I don’t even want to call leaders and just put them in “quotation marks” for the poor management they display, the problem with greed is that it is never satisfied as it is a bottomless pit where no amount is ever enough, like Mahatma Gandhi so poetically and poignantly said that “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” And paradoxically or amazingly, whichever way you want to look at it, he “landed” not only on stamps but on money as well! I wonder how many top executives, bankers, CEOs and anyone who makes their wealth on the backs of regular working people while being responsible for the misery of many an employee, will have their image imprinted on money or a stamp! Hardly any to none.

Ganhi pexels-photo-164636

The majority of people just want to live a normal, content life, work hard, pay their bills, raise their kids and see them thrive. They don’t cause any trouble, are reliable at work, care about their surroundings, but they find themselves in situations like I have found myself in and have collected here, unnecessary bulls**t that regular hard working, decent people with integrity have to deal with on a daily basis. Lives that are hurt and even destroyed by incompetence and carelessness of the top. I just about survived having come out on the other side bruised and damaged internally to speak about it. And if this happened to me even during the darkest time of my life, how many people have a similar story happen to them, but they crumbled under the mental strain and aren’t so lucky to happen to have a passion in writing and speaking out.

Because people everywhere and throughout history selfishly tend to just think from 12 to noon, not looking at the long-term effects and only in the long-run seeing the costs and consequences of bullying, but by then being way over the hill far away and gone from the consequences of their deeds. They pressure the very people who make this greedy wealth happen for them, they prefer to turn the blind eye repeatedly until they indeed become blinded to the difference of right and wrong. They twist and turn, cheat and lie so much they start to believe their own lies. They will by then have become so skilled in selling this lie to the next generation of “leaders”, who don’t have a clue what leadership means, even at its simple base of the definition. They mistake leadership with tyranny and loading it over the very workforce they should be taking care of by valuing and furthering them, if they don’t want these employees to one day turn around and bite them back in the butt! Fear management, prolonged fear in general leads to anger, and repeated mistreatment will not go “unpunished” in the long-run.

k20173303

The next generation of “leaders” will have taken up on the corrupt ways they learned and were subjected under, they continue to move in and even grow this toxic culture in the workplace and everywhere at that. It is a swim or drown situation of deciding to either become this kind of “leadership” to escape being at the receiving end of unjust treatment or stay under oppression and when the time comes, leave. Survival of the fittest at its best. This is of course in politics, schools, at home, everywhere, the struggle to dominate to not be dominated, but this is especially rampant in today’s multi-national companies that elbow their way through the high-streets with a smile and good PR.

And yes, I have received some support after almost a year of approaching the HR dept. being sent to into all directions and the support I then received came only after I contacted Pret’s CEO. A lot of the “support” was also for Pret-ense, but the core problem remained: suppressive leadership, bullying, exclusion, being shouted at, threats of job loss, tricked and trapped, not being given vital information needed to do the job, even weeks before I was dismissed with my dad in intensive care my last line manager did not invite me to the leadership Christmas dinner, it never ended. And then ultimately having been tricked and trapped again being dismissed while my dad just came out of a coma! This is Pret “doing the right thing naturally“.

It is so common with slogans like this that when an organization advertises something like this, it is a dead giveaway that it is the opposite. I had a complacent line manager once telling me what a hard worker he is, I laughed to myself thinking that, oh well, if he was such a hard worker he would be too busy working hard bringing the results than speaking about it!

So, what is the cost of workplace bullying? I survived to say that it has almost cost my life! And this is taking lives of many people everywhere in the world who didn’t have the strength to come full circle to talk about it. For anyone who survived or went through or even didn’t survive workplace bullying and unfair dismissals, and for their loved ones I speak out.

 

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What to me is very disheartening but does not come as a surprise is, that Pret’s leadership hasn’t even gotten the courage to respond to my public outcry yet. They have the “courage” to stress, suppress and mistreat staff, even while going through bereavement! But they can’t stand up to my public outcry. When they are contacted by customers about my blog, they sweet talk their way out of it as usual. Sure, they were probably instructed by their legal team to remain silent and let me rant and rave, and hopefully make mistakes which they can then use against me. Go ahead, I’m not going anywhere.

And it certainly is difficult and a sheer embarrassment for them as the top leadership has gotten involved. In Pret the common tactic to “motivate” their managers and shop teams to do better when they fail, is to name and shame them in front of the whole company. When a shop fails in a certain way like Health & Safety check-ups for example, all the shops are emailed with the poor results of that shop and where they failed, really shaming the manager. It’s a simple tactic to scare all shops to overwork for good results so Pret can show-off what a wonderful company they are. Of course they also brag on shops that bring amazing numbers and results, but it is also a tactic to make shops jealous so-to-speak, again to work even harder in this stressful environment. But I prefer a hidden agenda in praise anytime, to naming those who fail. And yet, here is Pret’s leadership being caught out failing their staff, and this is my turn to name their failings in the hopes they will improve in how they treat their staff, as this has almost cost my life and is hurting people who make Pret’s growth happen. What a shame:

  • The CEO belittling me as his “late night girl” in front of the Director of HR due to my ill late night emails which I extensively explain in my blog what happened to me; him minimizing my conduct that I tried so hard to overcome, and which to my surprise didn’t only happen to me in a workplace!
  • The Head of HR & Recruitment wanting me to stroke his ego by telling him on a scale of 1 to 10 how it was for me meeting with him, while I really needed to meet with my line managers who were at a loss… Uhm, sorry I still can’t answered that weird and self-serving question. The Head of HR missed my almost year long effort to bring suggestions on how to improve and support bereaved employees before I then finally contacted the CEO for help (stupid mistake as they were just having a laugh!)
  • Most managers who were out of their league in how to deal with me while I always gave them help and suggestions what would help me, but their refusal just made this mess worse.
  • OPs managers who were like a flag in the wind back and forth, stuck and stumbling between pleasing HR and having gotten to know me, not as this crazy person everyone was told about, but as someone who actually has a lot to share and bring to the table, even while being lost in grief and trauma… Well, they snooze, they lose!
  • A Development Manager having been used to give me a disciplinary for my emailing because she supposedly lost her brother very similarly to how I lost mine. But then her unallowed entering into solely electronic communication with me which with all the other emails gotten me dismissed while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma! Using her and her allowing for her tragedy to be used like this was a clever plan but the most disrespectful thing they have done, hoping to get to me via this “friendly fire” by stepping on bereaved people’s dignity like this. But this crossed a line and it only backfired.

This shows how incompetent and careless they are, and I cannot stop concluding how incredibly arrogant the conduct of an elite group is, that are at the top of a company. A company that was made big by regular working people, of which many of them have degrees and education from their home countries, but happen to not speak English as best yet, ending up working in Pret. Professionals with PhD’s whose degrees are not accepted in the UK and who are forced to study further to get the adequate degree as they cannot find work in their home country with what they specialize in. I worked with a colleague who back in his small Brazilian town was the secretary to the town’s mayor! I worked with a lady, also from a small Brazilian town having been a bank manager at the local bank there. I worked with talented IT people and artists, with a lawyer from Spain who has her degree in law etc. etc. These people were often patronized and treated like complete idiots, just because they didn’t speak English very well having the managers assume they can just discriminate highly intelligent and educated people who are forced to make sandwiches and coffee for some of the most snobbiest customers, just because their English isn’t quite there yet.

But back to my ordeal, what Pret did by using the Development Manager, and her allowing this was then the main push for me to go public while licking my wounds and after burying my dad, almost needing to be buried myself.

The heart of Pret gotten involved and messed up bigger than anyone on the shop floor could ever mess up. They have presented themselves as a “leadership” with their conduct and style that is trickled down, and reflected on the shop floor with shop after shop having extremely poor management with countless complaints about this.

Here is a company that is next to nothing when it comes to PR and how they present this nice facade to the public, while people internally are suffering. Yes, there are many good things in place like helping the homeless get back into work (while making other employees homeless by unfair dismissals!), the apprenticeship scheme (young people are cheaper in labour and easily fooled not having had enough experience in life yet, not knowing their rights), giving left over food each night to charities etc. And I don’t want to question the motif behind those schemes while still acknowledging that this makes excellent PR.

But the trouble with PR(et) always is that it is only one-sided. And in time the truth always comes to light. It always takes just one person to kick-start a true view of the company and stand up with the message, that this time they picked on the wrong person and especially at the wrong time! When a company as wealthy, sophisticated and rich in resources like Pret crosses a line by not even stopping to mistreat an employee who has been thrust into bereavement and trauma, and this company trying so hard to get rid of this “inconvenient” employee, even though this employee is still working extremely well under traumatic circumstances, helping the company succeed, it just shows how indifferent and plainly arrogant a company like this is for believing itself invincible.

I have been told by several people that I make them grow, well I hate to be the one making a now multi-billion company grow up!

pexels-photo-164527

So, Pret will continue their PR and will find tricks and traps again in their own way how to get back at me for speaking out. And who knows what leadership changes will come in place after the JAB takeover as some people in HQ have already been made redundant. And silence might just be their tactic in the hopes this will just go away in time. No, it won’t! Important people are picking up on it, and it is time.

And this is the important thing that more and more people have become aware of how it really looks behind the scenes, and hopefully this will help that not more employees become ill and suicidal. My aim is NOT to hurt anyone, but to help that not more people are getting hurt! In the “return-to-work” interview sheet for employees who were off sick and returned to work, there is one question regarding the symptoms of the illness, one question that asks if the employee has anxiety issues related to work. There is a reason why this is asked as the main “motivating” factor in Pret is fear management and pressure resulting in bullying the very people they need to be treating well, but fail to.
I have had countless threats to my job security in my almost 10 years in Pret. I was an extremely good Team Leader and employee, I don’t say this to float my boat, because I am crap in other things, but I know how good I was at my job and received many many compliments from my teams and customers. And yet I was often in sheer fear to lose my job for no valid reason! And when this even intensified during bereavement and trauma where they still continued in this tactic, they crossed a line.

When I have a good moment I write more creatively and with a good pinch of humour and sarcasm I write things like my “IMAGINARY but Honest Interview with Pret A Manger” to highlight the ridiculousness of their efforts to hide the work conditions and staff treatment. It is my way of having a laugh at Pret for a change after them having a laugh about me becoming ill after trauma in bereavement and bullying at work.

What happened to me and all the Staff Complaints I have compiled unto one page just shows how unprofessional and indifferent Pret is. In time more people will come out and tell their stories. I know Pret is working hard in the background on some things. I am sure as they are many and as a huge company they should be able to handle ONE person. I for my part have sent a clear message as direct and also as creative as possible, that has drawn the line where after all I have been through, giving Pret the benefit of the doubt again and again, I have decided for good to not drink anyone’s dirty water no more! The CEO is not following his own advise to deal with issues fast. I’m still waiting, and so are others.

With a Pret A Manger smile!

Strong woman smudge smiley

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO. 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. I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

©2018/2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Definition of Bullying

 

Bullying can kill

 

When my brother died I went into extreme darkness, shock and trauma, and at the same time straight into autopilot. Apart from all the errands I had to run and things I had to do, I kept working because I had no choice. I lost all my savings for all the bills that came up, flights, living costs etc. I was forced to keep working.

During that time the bullying in Pret did not stop, it even gotten worse where they tried to cut me out of my leadership position. One incidence I just came back from a two week holiday in warm Florida and Virginia having visited with friends, one of whom I share my birthday with, and our combined friends gave us a trip on a boat to watch dolphins further out on the ocean. I didn’t enjoy the holiday as I usually do, but I relaxed and enjoyed my friends. In hindsight this was the darkest time, the whole year and the following was, but this time even while the sun was beaming and my friends were so lovely, it was so dark for me.

My guard was somewhat down, just having returned from a warm climate, warm in weather and in people, to then returning to the cold early December weather in London. When I returned to work my then line manager was tense and as usual would tell me off in front of my team. As an employee to be told off repeatedly in front of your colleagues is already wrong and hard enough, but as a team leader being told off again in front of my team I couldn’t bear anymore.

After just starting work again, with my guard down and this having been two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death, I couldn’t take the telling off anymore and I just broke down right then and their in front of everyone. I cried and shouted uncontrollably, tried to take my jacket and pushed a tall colleague a little to the side who was just standing behind me. Shocked at him standing there, because I didn’t realize someone was behind me, I just pushed him out of shock, crying, trying to grab my jacket to leave the shop.

The line manager kept telling me to get out on the shop floor to serve customers. I was extremely in shock, afraid I would lose my job if I take my jacket and leave. The guy I pushed (not purposely, but in shock) just said to me “Don’t push me!” When he said that I just wept and repeatedly said “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

NO ONE tried to calm me down or console me, absolutely no one!

The line manager flung the office door to the shop floor open and with a delegating pointing finger towards the shop floor ordered me out. In tears and immense shock I served customers, and not even customers asked me what happened. My colleagues outside did, who didn’t witness what happened in the office. They asked what’s going on, but I couldn’t tell them.

I raised a grievance, which at first HR didn’t want to do. I then contacted the CEO and only then did they conduct a hearing. The hearing manager in a nutshell rejected everything, rejected that it was bullying and even flipped it around putting the blame on me for being aggressive (breakdown!!)! Shock after shock after shock after shock after shock….

I appealed the outcome and in a 4.5 hour appeal’s hearing the hearing manager and HR note taker played dumb and pretended (Pret-ended!) to not understand what my problem is. The hearing manager in fact than asked me another shocking question:

“What is your definition of bullying?”

I remember just starring at her… Did she really just asked me that??!

To make it short, the appeal was partially substantiated, but not that it was bullying, but only that the line manager after I broke down did not show “compassion”. I understand only in hindsight that they tried to avoid admitting that bullying of a bereaved employee not only happened, but kept continuing. In fact I was put into the role of the bully then because I became loud and in tears crying out irrationally.

In hindsight I would answer the question of what my definition of bullying is, with the question of what this OPs manager’s definition of bullshit is?!

As you read you would ask why on earth I didn’t go to Tribunal then. I cannot explain this, I cannot explain the irrational fear I was in, the intense trauma and fog. I entered into self-blame which was perfect for Pret, because I suffered from sibling survivor guilt. I felt, and still feel somewhat that I let my brother down. Why did I survive my big brother?! What have I done to deserve to live!?

In later grievance appeal’s hearing I raised against an HR People Business Partner who kept sending me away when I asked for support, I explained the background of my turmoil up until my communications with this PBP, when I came to the point about being rebuked again, breaking down and in my broken down state being send out to do customer service, the hearing manager asked me if my GP can verify that I had a breakdown! I cannot explain the Twilight Zone I was in with incident after incident of systemic bullying in a work environment.

So, the bullying felt more like I was just imagining wrong doing because I already am suffering on the inside, lost over 35kg (while having free food around me every day!), couldn’t eat, was in physical pain, tinnitus, a complete and utter mess inside. I gave everybody the benefit of a doubt, except myself. How sick I have become and how wrong I was to let them step all over me, but I was in a different world, traumatized and on autopilot.

I became suicidal and had several close calls and am moving on to tell my story, no matter what they’ll throw at me!

So, to the OPs manager who did the appeal’s hearing asking me my definition of bullying, and to Pret, I have a question: Would the below count as definition of bullying?

 

Quote of the Day Pret #4

(New York)

 

This one maybe?

Quote Pret #22 Racist

(NYC)

 

Or this one?

Quote Pret #23 Racism

 

How about this!

Quote Pret #21 Just Terrible

(Chicago)

 

This?

Quote Pret #09a Hellhole

Quote Pret #09b Hellhole

 

 

Quote Pret #15 Harsh

(London)

 

 

Quote Pret #19 Avoid

 

Quote Pret #20 Terrible Company

 

(NYC)

 

Quote Pret #11 Squandered Opportunities

 

Quote Pret #25 Brainwash

 

For the sake of my wrist trying to avoid carpal tunnel, a long but not exhaustive list can be found here:

Pret A Manger Staff Complaints

Would the above answer your question dear OPs manager? If you don’t think that bullying a bereaved employee and in their trauma send them out to do customer service, in a company that prides itself in customer service does not look like bullying to you, then I really feel for your lack of emotional intelligence and you conspiring with a toxic HR department like this!

 

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying – 2

Workplace Bullying Costs Lives

Workplace Bullying Costs Lives – 2

Pret’s Modern Slavery Statement vs. Pret’s Modern Slavery Practices

Pret A Manger Staff Complaints ~~~ & ~~~ Selected Quotes

How I became a Late Night Girl

 

 

Late Night Girl2

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.