“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

 

 

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.

 

 

images.washingtonpost.com

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.

 

Quote of the Day #33 – Red A Manager

 

fist-blow-power-wrestling-163431

 

 

Quote of the Day:

“Please have the staff send feedback more often about working within the company. Especially about the managers that come externally, as most of the time, their personality only is good for business, but not for the people that work under.”

Good suggestion, but unfortunately this would be a waste of energy and time because this type of management is calculated and wanted in Pret BECAUSE of business. Take it from me, I wrote my fingers into a carpal tunnel and spoke my tongue into a swollen slab, with bringing suggestion after suggestion to just hit a brick wall of indifference and stubbornness. The slogans and messages that “Pret is a family” like the CEO said straight after Brexit happened, is just PR to try and keep a work”force” in place that is in reality not a family of course, but like the military where they have to function like machines. Whoever doesn’t survive or is too “weak” will be discarded.

The “family” talk had me fooled for years as well breaking my head trying to understand why Pret is not doing anything about the poor management in shops. Ha Ha, Pret IS behind this poor management. “Good for business” is the only goal in Pret, as I came to wake up more and more after thinking for too long that they are just clumsy or incapable.

Military pexels-photo-279991

Last year when I still worked in Pret I was on my lunch break during a shift in my shop one afternoon, when a Manager In Training (MIT) joined me for lunch who just came back from his training day in HQ. He was looking at his training manual at the part of the “The Four Insights Discovery Colour Energies” that Pret teaches and implements for their managers and which is briefly touched on in Team Leader training courses as well.

Remember, the red, yellow, green, blue in personality and management styles? The MIT casually looked at this page while eating and we started chatting when I asked him how the training is going and if it was good, anything interesting he learned etc. We just had some small talk. I always ask people how it’s going whatever they are doing at that point as I love learning about them.

When I saw the page with the colours, I asked him what he discovered his main colour is. He explained what his colour is and I was perplexed, because he said that his colour is red. I responded surprised and said that I thought his colour was more like a mix of green and yellow, because he was quite caring, fun to be around with, although he was somewhat hectic and clumsy as he was new to Pret coming from a different business. But when I responded surprised at his colour he then said something that had me not only in tears, but the scales from my eyes fell off and it all made sense.

Me responding that his colour may be more green or yellow, not at all red, he said, “No, no, they (the trainers in HQ) told us to kill the green because we are a business”, that red is better for business.

These were the literal, exact words he repeated from his training!

Kill the green because we are a business!

I almost had my food stuck in my throat when he said that. He knew my story of mistreatment during bereavement a little bit, and I just teared up right in front of him and said to him, that “this attitude they are teaching you to ‘kill’ the green literally almost killed me!”

He just starred at me in silence as if the penny dropped since knowing my story. He just went quiet as if having second thoughts on his “choice” of colour. I don’t know where he is now, if he made it to be a manager, I’m sure he did, but I hope these few minutes of a conversation had him rethink his approach and not doubt his colour or personality, nor let anyone tell him how to twist himself into a “colour” that he is not, a colour that hurts people including himself.

This is why this review I posted a few days ago makes so much sense and my years of experience in a raging red hot environment that gotten me ill and almost dead!

Well done to my fellow former team leader colleague for leaving early!

2018-07-31 Quote #33 Pret A Red

Former Team Leader

Taken from a list of Pret Staff Complaints collected from Employment Review websites.

 

©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.

 

The McLibel Case

 

“A long time ago there was a company that made lots of money selling bits of meat between two bits of bread.

Many people were employed to put the meat between the bread and many animals were killed to be the meat.

A friendly clown persuaded children to love the company.

Some decades passed and all was well. The company became very, very rich. Richer even than many countries.

And then some people wrote in their newspapers that eating lots of the meat and bread could make people ill. Other people said on television that too many trees had been cut down and that the workers were unhappy.

This made the company very angry.

The company looked around the world and saw that in England there existed a special law that could stop people saying things the company didn’t like.

And make them say sorry.”

 

The Guardian newspaper apologized.

Other Newspapers apologized.

Channel 4 apologized.

Daily Mirror apologized.

Daily Mail apologized.

Bromley and Hayes News Shopper apologized.

BBC Radio Sheffield apologized.

Granada Television apologized.

The Cumberland News apologized.

TimeOut apologized.

Sunderland and Washington Times apologized.

Linda McCartney apologized.

Lowestoft Journal apologized.

Spitting Image apologized.

Best magazine apologized.

GreenScore apologized.

Green Capitalist apologized.

Hatfield polytechnic apologized.

Turning Up The Heat apologized.

Chiltern apologized.

Morning Star apologized.

Here’s Health apologized.

Morning Star apologized.

filmkraft apologized.

Chiltern Radio apologized.

Casio College apologized.

Today apologized.

Manx Independent apologized.

Slow Observer apologized.

Islington Community Housing apologized.

Wales on Sunday apologized.

Of the Greens apologized.

New Leaf Tea Shop apologized.

Kingston on Thames polytechnic apologized.

The Sun apologized.

BBC apologized.

Somerset Country Gazette apologized.

Bournemouth Advertiser apologized.

 

McLibel Not sorry

(Intro of documentary video below)

 

This case has always inspired me. I saw this first about 10 years ago and admired the tenacity and principles of two “small” people not bowing to a Goliath.

In a nutshell, two activists where sued by McDonald’s (the American side who found a loophole in UK’s legal system) for libel because they were handing out leaflets regarding the food, staff treatment, animal cruelty etc.

Their activism was covered by several news media organizations, Newspapers and TV news channels. McD got “upset” and all the media people apologized… except these two simple “little” giants Helen Steel and David Morris.

 

mcdonalds_wideweb__430x315

 

Fasting forward 5+ years, they half won the case against McD upon appeals and went further to the European Court winning their case that it isn’t fair that when regular people are sued by a multi-million dollar company with all their big shot lawyers, for the regular people not being able to get free legal representative. Any criminal has the right for free legal aid, but regular folk who are completely outnumbered and outsourced by a Goliath should be able to have the same rights. And they won that case!

They deserve a spot in my Hero section. Helen Steel, David Morris, Keir Starmer and all the volunteers and supporters who chipped in to support their case, which in reality Steel and Morris fought for all of us regular people!

It is really worth watching this almost 1.5 hour documentary. If you are on the right side of justice and empathy for hard working people, this will inspire you to even just support people who don’t have the power or means to fend for themselves.

 

Full McLibel Documentary

Website of the Documentary

McSpotlight

 

A spot on quote: “Most so called anti-social behaviour is actually people fighting over the crumbs that are thrown from the table. The real people who are behaving anti-social, are those who control all the resources and deprive other people of what should be shared amongst us all.”

— Helen Steel (at about 1:12:50)

 


 

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 an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

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.

McStrike & Pret A Grève

… or what would be the French term for “strike”. Pret employees most likely won’t strike because they are being bribed now with £1000 while still experiencing extremely stressful work situations on a daily basis.

I have been boycotting McDonald’s for years, in fact I only ate there two, no more than three times and only because friends wanted to go. I just joined for my friend’s sake, but I always regretted it to have wasted my money there. Apart from the terrible food which shouldn’t be called “food”, the main reason I refuse to go to McD’s (for life) has always been the way they treat their staff. I can forgive a bad dish once in a while, but I cannot accept how poorly staff are treated and it is always something I pay attention to when I am eating out in a restaurant. How is the supervisor or owner of the restaurant treating their staff.

FastFoodStrikes_Clown

In Germany a few years back there was a huge scandal on staff mistreatment at Lidl, where Lidl would spy on their staff with hidden cameras, bullied them, unfairly sacked or pressured them. Many news and undercover reports brought this to light. I boycotted Lidl for over a year in London, even though London’s Lidl didn’t seem affected by this. But since the news reports things have improved in Lidl and I started to shop there again.

It is relatively new and about time that fast-food workers go on strike, with Unions across the globe taking a closer look at the giants who exploit employees on every corner. I have no words except that even while Pret gives a little more here and there to staff, the experience is the same, apart from the bullying, I always felt devalued, patronized, discriminated and was held low. I was more the outspoken type of employee, so it was very clear that I was to be held low and would never grow through the ranks, nor did I want to.

I showed interest to see what my line managers would say, and it was always very patronizing, one OPs said to me as I was known for having highly organized teams and shops, saying, “Just make sure the shop looks immaculate.” That was when I knew I would not be going far in Pret. But even if I had the chance, I still could not have done it, as to grow up the ladder as a manager you would have to cut hours and take as much as possible from staff who are the backbone of the business. I can never do that.

And it is the same everywhere. Even when a company starts off well, the temptation of the potential of sick amounts of money is just too grave to resist getting corrupted. Very sad. But I sleep well at nights, and will never be remembered for a dishonest person taking advantage of people. I will be known for all the ill behaviour and craziness from my trauma, but not for being corrupt and discriminating. And that is enough for me.

 

Fast-Food-Strike-PlannedPLUS-Pret

 

And like these employees who went down the right route of raising grievances, doing everything according to procedure, they were ignored. I was tricked and trapped by the HR dept. It’s just the same story, just masked differently.

 

First UK McStrike

 

The only way are Unions. If you are not in a Union yet, join one, without it you have no chance. I had to learn this the hard way. Big corporations do not understand fair-play, open cards and integrity, they laugh at it. Take it from me, in my illness I received the nickname “late night girl” from Pret’s CEO who just had a laugh about my illness.

 

 

Ian Hodson, President of Baker’s Food Allied Workers Union

 

Andrej Stopa – Pret A Manger Staff Union

 

 

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.