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.

 

JavaScript required to view slideshow. May not work on mobile devices.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slideshow can be paused

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.

“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 #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 Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying

 

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

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

pexels-photo-551588

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

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

Ganhi pexels-photo-164636

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

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

k20173303

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

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

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

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

 

man-320273__340

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pexels-photo-164527

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

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

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

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

With a Pret A Manger smile!

Strong woman smudge smiley

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post. I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

©2018/2019 expret.org

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

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