Dear Ivana Hrmova,
I didn’t really want to include you in my letters and on my website as I didn’t want to give you space here, but for the benefit of others I will include you here after you involved so many people against me. I was very hurt when I learned that you got promoted soon after what you have put me through over a period of about 6 months. It felt like you got rewarded, and yet I know it wasn’t a reward. It needed time for me to understand that this is systemic and that in Pret this is just an unfortunate norm where the elbow rules over people’s health, worth and dignity. I just have experienced what I have experienced in Pret. For many people, especially young people, Pret is their first job, they have nothing to compare it with. But I have comparison from years of different jobs in different countries. And I have never experienced what I have in Pret and always tried to explain to staff that it is more important in the long run to treat people well.
But as business becomes more global and companies imitate each other once they see success, it is a cold world we live in where most people just fight for their position on the ladder, not realizing how easy it is to slip and fall down the steps onto a ground without a strong foundation of respect, ethical principles and courage. Love for people frankly!
I wrote to someone last year when I was still working in Pret, that I have come to a place where I am not angry with you anymore, but where I feel sorry for you having been so incapable to feel empathy, not pity, but empathy for someone whose world was shattered into a pile of rubble; while even out of that rubble still working with extreme discipline, quality and passion in an unforgiving environment. And then I thought that you have your story, and that there is reason why you are the way you are. You certainly seem lonely when I observed you. That evening when you took us out for a drink, you brought your boyfriend and stood with him all night alone by the side, you never spoke with any of us. So, I thought that you certainly are just a person who has her insecurities in real life. Insecure people often slip into bullying behaviour when they try to prove themselves or when they are just lost in how to deal with people who grieve.
You certainly went after me for 6 months, even sending me to the shop with the black H&S visit supposedly to help fix the issues. But with the help of ND you were setting me up for failure as every little mistake was a massive issue. I was traumatized, in dark grief, and you sent me to this shop to get a file note, setting me up for failure. Maybe this insecurity got the better of you, where you may normally be above things. I don’t know, I’ve never gotten to know you.
You were later put under an OPs manager who has more emotional intelligence, although also under this toxic system, to take you under her wing. Lucky you, I continued to be put under management who kept suppressing me, even laughing at my ill behaviour. There you go. That must really satisfy you, right? Certainly the agenda never changed to get rid of me, in the beginning in the hopes I’d just resign, having been offered money if I resign and never speak about my ordeal. But I held out for 3 years trying to improve work conditions, so that no one else would have to suffer like I did and others, who ended up taking their destiny into their own hands.
You have heard how ill I have become. Maybe you laughed about it as others did. I’m sure you are a good person. We just live in a society and certainly in this city that does not know how to look at death in a confident way. When we are confronted with death, bereavement, vulnerability, we deal with it very strangely in this day and age. And I understand now more that everyone deserves the chance to learn and grow and change.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather 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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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