NOTE upfront, as people, the press, customers will ask Pret on this, they of course will not give any info. That’s why Pret needs an independent investigation like the inquest did with the first customer, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died from an unlabelled product.
Amnesty International had independent investigations leading to 5 senior leaders resigning.
Two staff at Amnesty died by suicide last year which led to the investigation into a “toxic” work environment.
I may not be in the position of an investigator, but my knowledge of 10 years in Pret with my last 3 years traumatized and bullied during bereavement, I almost died by suicide and had close calls. I was completely out of my mind in shock, grief and the bullying environment of Pret. I’m just now slowly coming out of this darkness. I confront Pret on a suicide of an Assistant Manager in 2017. I may have learned about her turmoil a few months before she died.
I was also leaked an email in May 2019 that the Director of HR Andrea Wareham sent to all shops in that month, with the news that two Pret shop staff have died within a month. I was told that one died by suicide. The other staff member’s passing, the “leakers” don’t know the circumstances. This is the first time to my knowledge that Pret communicates staff deaths. I was a Team Leader and had access to Pret emails, even the death of the AM in 2017 was not communicated to us, let alone that it was a suicide. I only learned by word of mouth between shops, as this AM worked in the same area I worked in. And the two customer deaths were not communicated to us, not even to us leaders. Absolutely nothing was communicated, not even a hint to be more diligent with labelling and allergen info! Nothing!
This looks to me like Pret may have been advised by their legal team, but more likely a PR company to communicate when people have died, as this will come out anyway sooner or later since the press has a close eye on Pret and my website exposing from a behind the scenes perspective. Pret knows my website in case anyone is in doubt, I confront them on Twitter as well. And maybe they were even advised by the new owners JAB / Reimann via Chairman Peter Harf, who advised the Reimann family to research and publish their own Nazi past before anyone else does.
At least Pret may have heeded that advise if there was one. But they still don’t listen to the Staff Complaints and my speaking out. And when they lose a Tribunal case, they pay the peanuts and go back to business as usual.
Part of the email (I “smudged” out the names):
I always shudder when big companies refer to themselves as “family”. Especially those that exploit their employees behind the smiley facade. Psychology and manipulation of large corporations these days.
And this may be the reason a customer complained on Twitter of the unusual shortness of staff, if this is the South Terminal of Gatwick she was at. Pret shops are often short staffed, and when an emergency happens, there’s no backup. Even just 1 staff member calling sick puts enormous pressure on the rest of the team as Pret loves to staff very tightly to maximize profit and squeeze the life blood out of staff. The Job-center Tweets have increased lately on Gatwick positions. If this is the South Terminal, staff may have been upset of the death and called sick or quit as it isn’t unusual for staff to just walk out and never come back:
Also, Pret knowing and having been part of my trauma with the emailing, that the Director of HR brings the news of people having died via EMAIL shows that they not only don’t learn their lessons, but they don’t care! I keep saying to people to NEVER bring the news of someone’s death via email, text message, social media but only in person or via a telephone call, unless there is no other way. Pret could have had a meeting with all their General Manager (GMs) who then could have conducted team meetings in their shops or meetings with their leaders. Yes, this would take some extra time and effort, but CARE always takes effort! I write extensively about my emailing issues in “Not Quite a Beautiful Mind” and how abusive and discriminatory Pret A Manger really is.
Since the two customer deaths became public and my public writings against Pret, they may have changed and communicate people’s deaths now, yet continue to do this the quick and easy way via email!
I almost died after what I went through in Pret. Full story in below interview.
Another former Pret Assistant Manager lost his case against Pret for being overworked to the point of becoming suicidal. The judge ruled that the former Assistant Manager was too ambitious. Yet, I know Pret. I know how they overwork especially leaders, who are caring and hard working, compared to managers who just sit in the office blaming everyone around them. Shops at times have no General Managers (GMs). I have worked as a Team Leader and covered for managers when they were on holiday. I never received what they called a “step-up pay”, not even a “thank you”.
I can also relate to this AM’s claim that he was “scapegoated for failure” as this is a very typical Pret thing, to blame downwards which can also be seen in countless staff reviews I collected in the below slide show and long list linked to it. As a Team Leader I worked extremely well but was blamed constantly for the incapability and plain laziness of managers, especially when I became bereaved.
Picture from the Daily Mail article.
The Daily Mail calls a 46 year old man an ambitious “young” manager. I first thought they meant a twenty-something year old ambitious young manager. 46 is not old, but close to 50 he isn’t a young man either. Even though the judge has ruled and Mr. Saad didn’t seem to have appealed, I really do think his story is valid, knowing Pret. Including having been in hospital! He was probably fed up and exhausted, not to mention having lost money in the case, but who knows what an appeal would have done.
The first comment under this Daily Mail online article also give a good insight into how big companies work their staff into exhaustion, and in Pret, I can verify that.
»As someone who has been a manager for many years in retail and catering, I can confirm that companies totally use and abuse their managers. They make sure you sign the 48 hours opt out so that you can’t sue them for being forced to work excessive hours, usually before you are appointed, so that you feel pressured to agree, despite the fact their is no possible benefit to a salaried worker for opting out. I believe him, I bet they took complete advantage of him, expecting him to do a managers job for much less money when they had no intention of promoting him, which is wrong.« – Thornbury9563
And yet in Pret, many managers are lazy and blame downwards, making the Team Leaders who care do all the hard work, while other Leaders who are “smarter” kiss up to management, getting promoted faster, exploiting hard working teams. Just the same old bullying mentality of elbows.
A little reminder that Pret was also cleared in New York where a customer sued Pret after he suffered an allergic reaction ALSO to an unlabelled sesame product, the same allergen that Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died of from a London shop. Even though Pret won the case it did not give them any sense of urgency or a wake-up call to start labelling products! ONLY when customer deaths became public did Pret slowly implement labelling! Hello? No alarm bells ringing still?!
So, Pret having been cleared on above case where the AM became suicidal doesn’t mean anything to me knowing how dangerously close I also came to end my life.
A Guardian article on the toxic work environment at Amnesty International. There are many toxic issues, even in charities that people often don’t realize are happening. In the Amnesty report they found that many staff have a “martyrdom” mentality where they overwork, as they care so much. The above former Pret AM is like many Pret staff are, they overwork, want to prove they are good at their jobs but get the life-blood sucked out of them. In the above case, the judge ruled against Mr. Saad. But I know Pret. I gathered many staff complaints from various websites (incl. YouTube, Twitter, FB and other sites) and just compiled a selection in below Slideshow, not to mention my horrific story with Pret! I explain in my interview at the bottom of this page why I withdrew my Tribunal claim against Pret.
Pret also has public humiliation in place, at least during my 10 years when I worked at Pret. Emails from HQ would be send to all shops, naming and shaming shops/managers when they failed in Health and Safety scores for example. Shops could also check every Friday via a link on complaints from customers all shops received that week. So my shop could see all the complaints about other shops and all shops could see our customer complaints. I myself was targeted during already traumatic grief via email from my then line manager, who would blame me in group emails, always copying in his line manager (our area manager). When I applied for my file I read emails from the area manager to HR and back, brainstorming on how to get rid of me. It was systematic and is systemic.
Photo on Deutsche Welle (DW report)
After the news of the first customer, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died from unlabelled allergen in a Pret product, I asked on Twitter how many more there are if Pret was able to hide this. Knowing Pret and of at least 1 suicide of the AM in 2017, with myself also almost over the edge, I asked this question before the second death of Celia Marsh became public. I was aiming mainly at staff suicides after what I survived, but little did I know there really was a second customer who died:
So, I ask again, how many staff have died by suicide that is related to work conditions in Pret. Who will investigate Pret A Manger that has a toxic work environment, after I presented my story and other staff experiences as if on a silver platter to the public. Sure Pret does their own investigations, but from my experience with HR hearings, these investigations are what a Tribunal Judge once called “fundamentally flawed“. That was also my experience.
In Pret TWO customers died, a third nearly fatal, several hospitalized, numerous warnings by customers to Pret on allergen labelling ignored until the deaths became public. Even a lawsuit by a man in New York, who went into anaphylactic shock after ALSO eating an unlabelled sesame product from Pret in 2016, did not wake Pret up to label their products!
Staff died, the work conditions are horrendous, and yet Clive Schlee, CEO and Pano Christou, COO (who deleted his Twitter account when I tweeted Schlee’s retirement to the Press) go full steam ahead, doing business as usual, fooling the public with sweet-talk and free coffees. And all this now under the new owners JAB / Reimann, expanding in the U.S. where Brexit is a far distance. The COO position in Pret is new since JAB purchased Pret. Pano Christou (who came from McDonald’s management before joining Pret) was before the JAB takeover Pret’s UK Managing Director, a position held before by Andrew Walker, who then became the CEO of EAT…which is now purchased by Pret (well, by JAB really!). And I always find it interesting in Pano Christou’s case who likes to keep a low profie and even has on his Twitter profile “@ Pret” not connected to “@Pret”. Don’t want to spilt hairs, but why I mention this is that Pret A Manger leadership is notorious for hiding behind a facade and not take responsibility, but blame downwards! This reflects on manager after manager, leader after leader I have worked with and so many in the below reviews complain about.
In all of this, the absolute WORST thing that can happen in a company: CUSTOMERS DIED!!! There is NOTHING worse that can happen to a company. And in Pret it happened TWICE with a third almost fatal as well… But there are no resignations, no investigations, no responsibility! UNBELIEVABLE!
Pret being a “fun” place to work? I would laugh if it wasn’t so dead serious! Pret has the most beautiful facade of any company I know, and the most toxic work environment behind that facade that I ever encountered anywhere!
Only few of the many reviews on Glassdoor
Link (St. Pancrass, one of the most busiest, stressful shops)
Link “This company is everything that is wrong with the world…Corporate hell on earth.”
I want to enlarge this review on Head Office by a former IT Analyst. I underline this, having gotten to know some from HQ with my horrific story (interview at the bottom).
“Some people who got lured in by company PR
Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”
July 2019 Glassdoor Stats
And this shows how the £1000 “carrot” was a big PR stunt and not a generous gift I’m writing about. In a nutshell: Clive Schlee made the £1000 announcement on the 29th May 2018 when he became aware of my website. I explain here in >>> The Timing of the £1000 Announcement.
Slideshow can be paused
The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in —> Pret Staff Complaints
UPDATE June 2019
I remember the news on the suicides in a French company and periodically over the years checked on this.
Between 2008 and 2009 THIRTY-FIVE (35) staff died by suicide! >>> France24.com
Appreciate that there was an independent investigation into Amnesty International for 2 staff suicides. ONE work related suicide is one too many!
The French news story disappeared. And now after 10 years…
Picture from the Guardian Article
Who will look into Pret?!
UPDATED August 2019:
For the record and found on my Tweets, I asked the following people / organizations to look into this:
@jeremycorbyn, @MayorofLondon, @SadiqKhan, @H_S_E, @CEO_HSE, @NSSN_NE, @hazardscampaign, @JonCruddas_1, @IanBFAWU, @foodgov, @MichaelGove and a lot of other private people and organizations who claim to care…
UPDATE October 2019:
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 now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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