On the Frontlines of Pret A Manger

 

With JAB / Reimann’s takeover of Pret, they are exploding from here on, purchasing sandwich chain rival EAT. with the plans to bow to public demand, turning the 90+ EAT. stores into Veggie Prets. The work environment of Pret will spill over to EAT.

EAT. as an imitation and the most serious competition to Pret is known by Pret staff as being more relaxed and less strict. EAT. has always been a sore in Pret’s sight, so one can imagine the triumph they must feel (all on workers’ backs!). Many Pret staff that I also worked with, especially leaders, left Pret and went to EAT. after they couldn’t handle the harshness of Pret anymore. They said that they rather get paid less and have less stress.

I’m sure current EAT. staff will be taken on more or less. Andrew Walker, CEO of EAT. used to be Pret’s UK Managing Director and has his story of why and how he left Pret …

 

2019-05-22 EAT

Photo: eat.co.uk

After the initial rumor mid May 2019 before the confirmation days later, the slogans are already out there quickly, as Pret A Manger means ready to eat, Twitter is full with “Ready to Eat EAT.” and “Pret swallowing EAT.” posts.

My concern remains regarding employees as I have survived Pret on another matter (my podcast interview at the bottom of this post). Perfect timing that my experience with Pret was also published in the May/June 2019 edition of The Scottish Left Review at the same time the rumors of the EAT. purchase circulated on Twitter.

 

2019-05-22 Preat A Merger

Link

How the leadership structure will be changed with Andrew Walker CEO of EAT and Clive Schlee, Pret’s CEO and their past “issues”, time will tell. But both companies in mid to end of May 2019 aren’t the highest scores from staff reviews on Glassdoor as well as Indeed and other sites. A little over half of EAT. staff and less than half of Pret staff recommend working for their companies on Glassdoor.

 

2019-05-22 EAT Percentage Reviews

versus

2019-05-22 45 staff 55 Clive

Regarding staff reviews of Pret, the below Slideshow at the bottom should make it clear why less than half recommend working at Pret.

 

The Scottish Left Review, a monthly left wing magazine published my story in their May/June 2019 edition.

I copy the full article here with link to the publication. I submitted the text which was slightly edited for grammar as English is my second language. But the text has been written by myself with information given to the magazine on the Pret Union and the I-Hate-Pret-A-Mangerpreth8ers” Facebook group.

 

Full text:

 

On the frontline: crushed by corporate capitalist culture 
Fighting-Back-Logo

 

Late Night Girl’ tells of the bullying behaviour at work she suffered and how she is fighting back.

My story with Pret-A-Manger is very complex and long. Only in hindsight, do I think I understand the extent of what I’ve been through and how systemic the problem of workplace bullying in profit driven companies can be.

I have always worked in the food industry in three different countries. I have worked in a hotel, wine bar, canteen and various restaurants and cafe chains but I have never experienced the stress and discrimination I went through in Pret. Only now, when I have contact with unions (like the BFAWU) and activists, do I realise that this is a growing problem as a result of capitalist globalisation and the accompanying intensification of competition.

Before I worked in Pret, I was an assistant manager (AM) in Caffe Nero. Nero was a lot of stress, but nothing like Pret, and the atmosphere with colleagues and managers was relaxed. I left Nero as Pret paid better. Even as a new team member, I got paid more than as an AM in Nero. I would not have left Nero if the wage was not so poor. Little did I realise that the reason Pret pays a little more than its competitors is because the work is so intense, incredibly stressful and with a bullying environment under poorly trained management.

But I’m used to hard work and don’t shy away from it. I started in Pret in 2008 just when Bridgepoint, the private equity investor, purchased Pret and put forward the target to open on every street corner (in London specifically). That meant a lot of managers were needed, but there was not the effort to really train them, and most have neither people nor leadership skills.

But again, I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt, thinking in time when I moved on or rose upwards in position that it would become easier. I never expected this bullying environment – which at first I denied was happening as it happened in every shop I worked but it continued and even intensified when I was bereaved.

I was a team leader of the shop floor – there is a separate leadership in the kitchen – from around 2011 onwards. Team leaders do the real work, whereas managers tend to sit in the office, come in late, leave early, look important, go to meetings etc. Team leaders are blamed a lot while not being supported.

My story really starts to become horrendous when my brother died. This in itself was the most traumatic event in my life and I never expected to be treated so badly with the seeming intention to have me leave my employment as bereaved employees seem quickly to become something of an inconvenience in Pret, and often in many other companies.

My brother died in December 2014 in his flat and was not found for approximately six days when neighbours smelt the strong odour of his corpse. My brother was self-employed – after having gone back to studies, he started his own business as an environmental advisor on green energy to companies. He travelled throughout Germany where I’m from, so it was not unusual that neighbours didn’t see him much.

We didn’t know for five weeks that my brother died, and to make it even worse, the police did not investigate properly, not finding us and after a few weeks just cremated him. I have written extensively about this on my blog (https://expret.org/). Here, I summarise what I went through in Pret.

I travelled back and forth between London and Germany for the funeral, running errands, investigating what happened, brought my mum with me to London as I had to continue to work. I spent all my savings with all the costs and was forced to return to work.

I had basic support from Pret as staff receive a few days ‘compassionate leave’. But that was all. I was never sat down and told what support I may need, and was also put on late shifts which kept me from vital support from friends as I worked when they were off and they worked when I was off. Initially, I didn’t mind and didn’t even notice, as I couldn’t sleep until the morning anyway as I was tormented with shock and grief. I kept going to work to keep me occupied and distracted as best as possible.

I approached human resources (HR) informally to make a suggestion on how to support bereaved employees. But unbeknown to me at the time, I believe this inadvertently put a ‘target on my back’ and my superiors, I think with the guidance of HR, started pursuing me with little issues where I made mistakes (but my mistakes were even less than those of my colleagues).

One of several Mystery Shopper (MS) requirements is that staff have to smile, be friendly and show happiness all the time. Only recently have I learnt that this is called ‘emotional labour’ that is forced upon low-wage workers and I have since written about it. Also, in Pret, staff have one minute to serve customers, one minute to serve the hot drink from the time of payment, are tested to see if they give eye-contact, make some polite remarks etc. The MS even times the service to the second. I give a few examples with excerpts of MS comments on my website.

If teams fail in any or several points, the whole team loses its bonus. The bonus system is the biggest chunk towards managers’ remuneration. So, managers are extra strict when staff fail. I was traumatically bereaved: I even begged sometimes to be sent into the kitchen, away from the shop floor as I was tearing up at times and didn’t want to be seen by customers. I couldn’t afford to go home as I had had to spend all my savings. But I was denied this with the reason that I’m not used to the kitchen and would be slow. Everything in Pret has to be done fast. ‘Time is money’, customer circulation in and out of shops has to flow fast, meaning the money flows fast.

After I approached HR informally, I also requested a transfer to a shop where I would have rotating shift patterns, as my then general manager refused to give me rotating shifts as the evenings weren’t as busy and the MS visited very rarely in the evenings. I was warned when I didn’t smile by an area manager, and was summoned into the office on my day off because I made some minor mistakes. I was sent to another area and shop that had lots of problems, and in hindsight, I believe, I was sent there to set me up for failure.

I quickly became paranoid and felt I was targeted. And, I think I was right because months later I applied for my employee file which included emails between HR and managers who were brainstorming all the time what to do with me. I was constantly put under pressure in the hope I would resign. But I didn’t. I even declined four settlement offers if I’d resign and never speak about my ordeal or go to court. Three offers were made internally and the fourth was via the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) when I withdrew my Tribunal claim as my dad just died in the middle of preparing for the case. I could not afford a lawyer and was unable to fight this on my own.

I have collected other staff reviews from employment review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc and I have learnt the hard way that, without a union, there is no hope of raising issues of systemic workplace bullying. Many people were shocked and disbelieving when I mentioned how Pret really is behind its well-polished PR facade. Only the unions, activists and some from the press have believed me.

The targeting I went through was everything apart from sexual and physical violence – the typical bullying, both open and subtle. I was shouted at and, when this didn’t work, I was excluded from leaders’ meetings, was not given important information I needed to do my job, and was sent to difficult shops to receive a disciplinary for failing even in little things. Pret, it seems to me, works mainly with fear management.

The more perverse thing Pret did was with emails after I became ill. I believe I was targeted in group emails from my boss, in the emails I read between HR and managers etc. I spiralled into ‘ill emailing’. I received a disciplinary for the emailing but Pret used a Development Manager who told me she had also lost her brother in similar circumstances to my brother. She went into personal text messages and emailing with me because of our common grief. But this confused me further and, only in hindsight, does it now seem that I was being set up to get fired. I believe I was ‘gaslighted’ and then fired while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma. CEO Clive Schlee labelled me his ‘late night girl’ due to my late night emails to everyone which then lead to my firing. I adopted that label to be a sore in his and Pret’s eyes. I confront Pret openly on Twitter and Facebook about this.

Because I have never experienced anything like this in any workplace, I was so traumatized with my brother’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, I became so out-of-sync giving Pret the benefit of the doubt again and again and putting blame on myself and what psychologists call ‘Sibling Survivor Guilt’. I even apologised for a nervous breakdown after a line manager rebuked me repeatedly in front of my team. For an overview of my trauma with Pret, I have created a ‘Mind Map’ linking each title to a blog entry as my blog has grown: https://www.mindmeister.com/1194255218/my-pret-a-manger-ordeal

‘Late Night Girl’ also tweets at https://twitter.com/LateNightGirlMe and she was recently interviewed on a podcast based in California where she tells her story in more detail (see front page of her website: expret.org).

• The editor adds:
There is a facebook group, started in 2011, called ‘I Hate Pret A Manger’. And, a now former employee, Andrej Stopa, helped start the Pret A Manger Staff Union (PAMSU). He was reportedly fired in 2012 under the pretence of him allegedly having made homophobic remarks. See also the case of Rodrigo (in boxed graphic), another fired union activist. Unfortunately, both groups are not very active now. Unions like the BFAWU and UNITE are continuing to try to unionise Pret. For more on the employment practices of Pret, see The Guardian and The Independent.


 

Full text on its own.

Full Magazine with text on pages 21/22.

 

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The above slideshow is just a selection of comments and reviews taken from review sites, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other sites. The list goes on in —> Pret Staff Complaints

 

UPDATE May 2019
TWO Pret staff have died.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?

 


 

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:


©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.

A Word to Pret A Manger Staff

 

Word to Pret Employees

 

 

2018-10-21 #61 Slaves Company

 

Former TM review from 18. Oct. 2018

Pret workers should do what colleagues did in the U.S. taking Pret to court:

Pret settles overtime wage claim (NY)

 

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Link

 

 

2018-10-15 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR

Link

 

 

Brutal Nightmare

YouTube comment towards the bottom

 

 

A customer comment on a deceased Pret employee, Dante and Pret in general (Chicago): “I knew Dante. He was an extremely nice person. That being said, Pret is a horrible company to work for.”

 

Chicago Pret horrible company to work for2

Link

 

 

2018-11-25 Amy Sharpe Undercover in Pret

Link on Amy Sharpe’s Undercover report on “hugely overstretched staff”, wasted food among other issues.

 


 

UPDATE 09.02.2019 Facebook comment on Pret’s house for the homeless by current Pret staff regarding work conditions:

 

2019-02-09 Response to Homeless House Tweet2

Link will load a few seconds and needs to settle before this direct comment appears.

2019-02-08 Response to Homeless House Tweet0

Link, again needs to load before the comment appears.

 

 

And many more on Selected Pret Staff Reviews from the long but not exhaustive list of Staff reviews and complaints collected from review sites, YouTube, Twitter etc.

 


 

My Advise to current Pret Staff:

 

If you are a current Pret Employee, especially in the shop and / or kitchen, I advise you to not waste your time trying to change work conditions, nor “fight” bullying, non-caring managers and dishonest HR internally, but join a Union ASAP!

 

>>> @bfawu1 or @NSSN_NE or @__PAMSU__ ‏ or many others …

 


 

Before I worked in Pret I never had any problems with a company or bosses. Of course I had the usual stresses any job brings, especially the food industry, and a boss here and there would get on our nerves from time to time, but nothing like the hell and trauma I survived in Pret! Nothing came even close! I never ever imagined to be bullied during already traumatic bereavement! Never! My story is like out of a twisted Hollywood Film and sometimes people don’t believe me. That’s fine, I have all the written evidence, have declined 4 settlement offers if I resign and never speak about my ordeal nor go to court. I do not sign my rights away, especially not the offensive peanuts Pret offered!

And all Pret does on Twitter and Facebook regarding my public confronting them, is to report me to Twitter to “shadow ban” me so that my followers are not notified about any new tweets and the public won’t see my tweets as Twitter on behalf of Pret (£$€) hides my tweets.

But because I never experienced anything even remotely bad in a company before, that’s why I made the mistake to give Pret the benefit of the doubt one too many times while clouded in grief and trauma, as this was a first. I was trying to figure out why this was happening to me. In my darkest time during bereavement, when I was so traumatized I couldn’t see left from right and just went on autopilot, I was even bullied on top of this! From my experience with this company, Pret A Manger, and especially their toxic HR department, I can only urge you to join a Union! Keep on writing reviews on Employment Review and other websites, but safe yourself unnecessary pain and time, and join a Union.

In fact any employee should be a member of a Union. Period.

For Pret workers and food workers in general, I can highly recommend the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union. The BFAWU was instrumental in the first ever McDonald’s workers’ strikes (McStrike) in the UK that already took place in the USA, but in the UK they are a vital force in organizing workers who suffer financially, physically and mentally.

My story is spread over this website, but to get to the most important blog entries for an overview, please visit this “Mind Map” I created to link to key blog entries. There you can choose the posts that most interest you to know about by clicking on the arrow linking back to this website / blog again.

Understand, that when you join a Union and Pret knows about it, that they will find anything against you to get rid of you. Andrej who founded the Pret A Manger Staff Union (PAMSU) was fired under the “pret-ense” of allegedly having made homophobic remarks 10 months prior to getting dismissed.

Andrej confronting Pret on the real reason of dismissal.

 

 

Pret A Manger Staff Union on Twitter

BFAWU on Twitter

 

So, join a Union and speak out, but understand that once Pret knows that you joined any Union, your days in Pret are numbered. But you won’t be alone. I cannot recommend the BFAWU enough and wish I knew this Union when I was in the middle of my Pret ordeal.

President of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson’s much needed words for employees and employers alike:

 

 

 

Worldwide food workers’ strikes on 04.10.2018

 

John McDonnell’s message to exploitative employers:

“We are coming for you!”

 

 

Word to Pret Employees

 


 

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.

 

©2019 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.

Quote of the Day #61 – Pret A Slave’s Company

 

Another “slave” review now from 18. Oct. 2018 and added to the list of complaints regarding Modern-day Slavery treatment in Pret.

 

SlaveBrick

 

Quote of the Day (highlight by me):

If someone can’t finish job on time has to stay longer, for free. Common practise is to give someone job to do, just a couple of minutes before end of shift and after telling that “you couldn’t finish on time, because you are to slow”

Oh yes, this is absolutely a common practice. The amount of times I was given a job 15 minutes before my shift ended, a job that would take at least 30 – 45 minutes and longer. I changed this “habit” then, and left on the dot when my shift ended and also told my teams or individuals when they were given jobs by the line manager minutes before their shift ended, that I will pay them via the system, as I was authorized to do as part of my team leader responsibilities, for the extra time. When the manager objected, which happened many times, then I advised my TMs that they should leave on the dot. I let my team go home precisely when their shift ended.

This did not make me friends with my line- and OPs managers, but these kind of people are not my desired friends!

 

2018-10-18 Slave Company

Former TM review from 18. Oct. 2018

Pret workers should do what colleagues did in the U.S. taking Pret to court:

Pret settles overtime wage claim (NY)

 

 


 

Long but not exhaustive list of Pret Staff reviews and complaints.

 


 

 

NOTE:

If you are a current Pret Employee, especially in the shop and / or kitchen, I advise you to not waste your time trying to change work conditions, nor “fight” this internally. Before I worked in Pret I never had any problems with a company or bosses. Of course I had the usual stresses any job brings, especially the food industry, and a boss here and there would get on our nerves from time to time, but nothing like the hell and trauma I survived in Pret! Nothing came even close!

That’s why I made the mistake to give Pret the benefit of the doubt one too many times, as this was a first, and trying to figure out why this was happening to me. In my darkest time during bereavement, when I was so traumatized I couldn’t see left from right and just went on autopilot, I was even bullied on top of this! From my experience with this company, Pret A Manger, and especially their toxic HR department, I can only urge you to join a Union! Keep on writing reviews on Employment Review and other websites, but safe yourself unnecessary pain and time, and join a Union.

In fact any employee should be a member of a Union. Period.

For Pret workers and food workers in general, I can highly recommend the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union. The BFAWU was instrumental in the first ever McDonald’s workers’ strikes (McStrike) in the UK that already took place in the USA, but in the UK they are a vital force in organizing workers who suffer financially, physically and mentally.

But understand, that when you join a Union and Pret knows about it, that they will find anything against you to get rid of you. Andrej who founded the Pret A Manger Staff Union (PAMSU) was fired under the “pret”ense of allegedly having made homophobic remarks 10 months prior to getting dismissed.

Andrej confronting Pret on the real reason of dismissal.

 

 

Pret A Manger Staff Union on Twitter

BFAWU on Twitter

 

So, join a Union but understand that once Pret knows that you joined any Union, your days in Pret are numbered. But you won’t be alone. I am recommending the BFAWU because they are very active and supportive of all workers.

President of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson’s much needed words for employees and employers alike:

 

 

 

Worldwide food workers’ strikes on 04.10.2018

 

John McDonnell’s message to exploitative employers:

“We are coming for you!”

 

 

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.

 

“Exploitative employers, We are coming for you”

 

McStrike-logo-300x264

 

 

 

Quote of the Day:

“Our message to exploitative employers is, that we are coming for you!”

John McDonnell

 

 

London’s Leicester Square 04.10.2018

 

 

Spoonstrike

 

 

BFAWU

 

 

A Message To Chains

 

For my people in the shops and on the streets, being loud and clear to say that we care for more than just peanuts and we deserve better than the disrespect we encounter for too long…

I miss my colleagues, working with them shoulder to shoulder, so I march with them shoulder to shoulder…. This is for them… more to come ………

 

 

ball-and-chain-2624325__340

 

A Message to Chains

 

One of those mornings

when I enter the shop

waiting for my colleagues to arrive

I am extremely down that day

but I keep going

 

Setting up the coffee machine

putting the frozen croissants into the oven

answering the phone to a colleague calling sick

putting down the phone

picking up my heart

I keep going

 

My team’s starting to trickle in

one by one, tired but Pret A Faire

I’m glad to see them

we all disperse to our jobs

and later the boss arrives

but I keep going

 

Noon-time

I want to press the snooze button

No! I want to smash it!

So exhausted!

Rude and ungrateful customers

boss having a go at us

colleagues fatigued

but I keep going

 

Hours missing from my pay

getting told off for nothing

rota changed without notice

and I keep going

 

Made a mistake

nothing much

but a catastrophe for my boss

so I keep crawling

 

Feeling low after life’s blow

going to work without pay

without help, with no meaning…

being bullied…

I keep going

and I strike

I strike

I strike

 

I strike back!

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Fast-food Workers Strike, Leicester Square, London, nationwide and in other countries 4th October 2018.

 

©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.

 

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.

 

PRet A Manger

 

What makes Pret being Pret? Not doing the right thing “naturally” as their slogan says. What does Pret do next to nothing that makes them unmistakably Pret?

 

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

 

I was awaiting an open retaliation or “tangible” trouble for going public with my traumatic experience in Pret, but no, I have to be disappointed again! I should have learned by now!

Pret’s done it again, the PR thing. This blog entry is for them of course a welcome contribution to their PR. I am feeling generous today and will explain why below.

Usually on Pret’s and the CEO’s Twitter there is something about a new product or a scheme like new cutlery, bottles etc. pinned to their pages, but since recently Pret’s pinned tweets are about all the good deeds Pret loves to advertise to the public, how Pret gives jobs to people who were homeless etc. So far so good.

So, the Tweet goes: Look at what lovely things we’re doing! Braaaaggg:

Btw, as an “Ex-Pret” I suggest to run from Pret before the stars fall from the sky!

Twitter Pret

 

and then:

 

Twitter Pret2

… while other staff members are unfairly dismissed and made homeless.

And on the CEO Twitter the pin is about the £1000 for every employee.

This sudden generosity, where it used to take 10 years of service in Pret to receive £1K now is “thrown” at all new and long-term staff, which to me looks like Pret is desperate to recruit and retain their staff, while making others redundant in HQ. Just shifting the money a bit in the midst of this Brexit angst.

 

Twitter Clive

 

So, what’s my problem with these? No problem at all, looks all very sweet and lovely, except to say that I crinch at this hypocrisy!

And I can’t help but think also of age-discrimination. All the former homeless people in the photo seem in their 20s or no older than 30s, as well as the apprenticeship scheme with young people who are paid less per hour, means that the “investment” in them will pay out longer than taking over 40 or 50 year old former homeless people. Young people don’t know their workplace rights yet, they are easily to be brainwashed and molded into a system whereas an older person comes with a lot of life experience and a zero tolerance for bullshit.

One review from a former employee has put it in more “krass” words, that even I find a bit too strong, but the reviewer, a former Assistant Manager who has a little more insights into upper level management and tactics than I have, wrote, quote:

“now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know, the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear … Get back to basic, care about the team and always listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt.”

I can certainly verify about the favouritism in Pret where you can work your butt off but are never promoted while an incapable and bullying team member sleeps their way through the ranks. But I just don’t have the courage to say the “M*fia” word and rather quote it, but the PR stunt is certainly a close relative to how Mafia organisations work. They “rampage” their way through a region and town, and in-between they give money to the little people and make substantial donations to charity.

Of course with the Mafia it is a mix of bribery, money laundering and “investing” in the little people, so when they need a boost in their reputation, the small folk will stand up and say what great deed this organisation has done for them! Super duper clever PR in a nutshell.

And a former IT Analyst of 8 years in Pret giving a review on HQ, quote:

“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.”

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

 

To pin ones photo with ex-homeless staff on ones Twitter feed and try to buy current and new staff with £1000 incentives, while the atmosphere in shops show a different story, is what my problem is with this.

Now, I am really glad for these and other ex-homeless people to not only get a shot at work and a new life again, visiting the CEO’s Austrian PRoperty, and also for the apPRentices, who are all treated a little “softer” then the rest of the workforce, but if this is the only response to my public outcry, I am really disappointment. And if I was a former homeless person, I would be really ticked off in being used for a PR stunt like this.

You may say as some have that I am very passionate about my Pret-rants, or you may think that I am too angry. Yes, both true, and if you have followed my story with Pret you will know why, if you agree with my public outcry not, but you will know why.

For any new reader, in a nutshell, I worked in Pret for almost 10 years. After 7 years of service I was bereaved as my brother died and the circumstances around his death and how I received the news were extremely shocking and traumatic. But regardless how his death was or how I received the news, bereavement is bereavement, and instead of being supported, I was bullied, targeted, excluded, shouted at by line manager after line manager, tricked and trapped by Pret’s corrupt HR department and patronized by the CEO who labeled me his “late night girl”. The support that I then received was a lot to cover up their tracks and a Pret-ense in many ways.

Because the managers in shops are not trained in how to deal with a bereaved staff member, the Head of HR met with me after I contacted the CEO for help when the bullying became unbearable. At the first meeting the Head of HR asked me how meeting with him was for me on a scale of 1 – 10. Confused at this weird question but in hindsight understanding that he had the need to get his ego scratched, falsely assuming I was “star struck” in having met with a big gun. Nope, I wasn’t impressed, especially after I approached HR for almost a year with suggestions for support, hitting a brick wall! I needed to meet with and the support from my line managers who were at a loss, frustrated and angry with me, belittling and offensive, and as one bullying line manager wrote in an email to his boss that my situation was “imposed” on him.

And another time the Head of HR met with me again while I was in the middle of a 3-months sick leave, but then not knowing it would turn into 3 months, a sick leave that was kick-started by my line manager shouting at us leaders again for no apparent reason and my anxiety level couldn’t handle this anymore. In this sick-leave I had my first massive panic attack in my sleep, waking up from or with a panic attack I didn’t know one can have in ones sleep. Dragging myself to A&E at 5am in the morning thinking I’m in the middle of a heart attack and the fear of death in me.

The Head of HR met with me again then and made the first of four settlement offers if I resign and be quiet about my ordeal as well as not go to court. Of course I refused as I don’t prostitute my values, nor am I willing to suffer in and “of” silence for the rest of my life. And then he had the audacity to want a “cuddle” when we finished the meeting where we met in a Cafe Nero. Not quite the professional end of meeting I would have respected as such. He put his arms around me and I remember ducking down confused, and later thinking to myself, that he should make up his mind if he wants me to leave or if he wants to cuddle! You can’t have both, sir! But then I heard a few things about him later, and again a lot made sense.

 

 

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A tutorial

 

Before my brother died, I had a normal life, friends, projects, hobbies, normal problems, bills, just a plain life. Now, Pret was always hard, rude, bullying, but I was able to see through and resist the fear management style most of the time and not take the stress home too much. But when I was thrust into traumatic grief and still working really well, even making the effort to bring suggestions to Pret, I was then drenched in great fear and anxiety that bereavement and trauma brings with it as a default. But this extreme fear was intensified by the bullying culture in Pret. I was like a zombie stumbling around and still don’t know how I even survived this.

So, now where I am publishing openly about my and other people’s experience, having been scared so much by and of Pret, intimidated, confused, angered, now where I am openly confronting this bullying system of Pret, Pret does not have the “balls” so-to-speak to not only apologize, but to respond in a way that would give them a chance to “safe face” and even more, to truly make a difference for their workers as this system is hurting them, and with it Pret in the long-run.

 

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply2

 

And as it is with everything in life, the truth always comes out, prolonged fear leads to anger and people eventually start to speak out, like in this unprecedented example of sexual violence in Hollywood and the outcry that was kick-started by a little hashtag #metoo that has brought and is still bringing rapists, bullies and abusers to justice. The same it is with systemic workplace bullying, a system like this cannot hide forever behind a PRet smile.

So, posting sweet little photos with former homeless people, using their stories for great PR, and advertising on the rooftops what good deed they’re doing now with the £1000 sudden generosity to each employee, I will refrain from saying what word comes to mind!

 

A former staff member, Andrej Stopa, who was fired for starting a Pret Union is a little more lucky than I to have none other then Andrea Wareham, Director of HR following him on Twitter, which might just be Pret’s way to signal to Andrej that they’re having an eye on him. Keeping him nicely tucked in as long as he doesn’t rock the boat too much.

 

 

Twitter Wareham PAMSU

 

Up until recently I was honoured to have a “Mystery Shopper” on my Twitter following. I had some followers but 1 was invisible, which gave me a good dose of confirmation that when someone has to hide their page, I might be doing something that troubles them.

Unfortunately the Mystery Shopper from my Twitter following has left, or maybe made themselves visible. And as I am customer focused, everyone is welcome!

 

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

 

Ian Hodson and the BFAWU

 

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This gentleman deserves a spot in my hero section. Ian Hodson, President of the Bakers Food And Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). Fighting for employee’s rights, particularly fast food workers. He has this spot as a great supporter, but also as a representation for all Union Leaders and Members, and those who struggle for better work and living conditions no matter where in the world.

I am still new to the whole idea of unions because I never needed it or was in any kind of trouble until I worked in Pret A Manger. I was often under the impression that Unions seem just a little too “aggressive”, or using poor workers’ stories to advance their own political agenda. But I stand corrected and want to apologize for that thought! I never ever had problems with my bosses in other companies, and I worked in 3 countries, Germany, the USA, and here in the UK, mostly in the catering industry since I was 16 years old, and that is a while ago!

And maybe it is the trend of our times that in fast-food and other workplaces discrimination, bullying tactics and fear management is on the rise, and more and more an acceptable form of controlling employees for the greedy elite few at the top of the “food chain”. I don’t know, but my story is so way out there, a Hollywood script could not have come up with this. I was too naive and plainly stupid to have “fought” on my own, not wanting to involve help because I always play with open and fair cards, assuming when I do the right thing, fairly and with integrity I would be treated fairly. Oh boy! Did I have to learn a lesson, and learn it the hard way! Welcome to reality! I survived to write about it myself.

If you work or know someone who works in a fast food place or anywhere at that, join this or any union! Take it from me, I wasn’t so smart and had to learn the hard way, never imagining that my life will get so out of sync. I am still suffering as I write this and am receiving long-term mental health services. But I am taking my life and sanity back! And I will be loud and unmistakably clear!

The BFAWU was instrumental in the historic McStrike movement in the UK, supporting McDonald’s employees to stand up for the first time ever in the UK’s fast-food industry. I hope the McD workers forgive me, but I have been boycotting McDonald’s for decades now especially because of how the employees are treated, apart from not liking the food, but employees are the ones making it happen. I boycott McD for life, but their workers have my support anytime. Massive respect for standing up against a giant like this.

 

Dear Ian Hodson,

thank you!!!

 

 

BFAWU

 

One of the many Union heroes of our time: Ian Hodson

 

 

Worth watching this full speech:

 

 

 

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.