Quotes of the Decade – Pret A Slave

 

slave-2614959_960_720

 

I shouldn’t be surprised nor appalled at Pret’s statement regarding Modern Slavery, and this may be concentrating more on their suppliers and farmers in other countries etc. while ignoring Modern Slavery on their doorstep in shops. Pret does what they often do, spilling the beans on something that is happening while white-washing it either in small-print or out loud through PR.

After the second customer dying due to allergy, and taking a deeper look again, I leave this without any more comments, just to say that Pret does what they do well, getting caught before getting caught.

“Good jobs for good people”, the beautiful PR(et) facade needs more fixing.

 

Pret’s Modern Slavery Statement

Quote from the Introduction on page 3:

“…  we remain steadfast in our commitment to eradicate modern slavery if and when identified in our business and supply chains. We know there’s a lot to do and we will continue to make our journey transparent, sharing our successes as well as the challenges we encounter along the way.”

 

We know there’s a lot to do?

 

Rephrased: “We have modern slavery in Pret, but we work on it once we get caught. We stay quiet until it becomes public and in the meantime make a statement in advance to cover our shiny PR(et) facade.”

Like the kid with the chocolate stained fingers behind his back from the cookie jar saying to his mum who hasn’t even noticed the missing cookies yet, “It wasn’t me, mum. I don’t know where the cookies are!”

 

I’m happy to help Pret with the “transparency” part of their statement and operations: Pret’s Staff Modern Slavery Statements and how it looks behind the facade.

 

Some selected Quotes:

NEW Slave’s company (18. Oct. 2018)

Modern Day Slavery (2nd Oct. 2018)

Workers are slave (June 2017)

Slave-like environment (Oct. 2017)

Felt Like A Slave (Nov. 2014)

Quoting further from this which appears when clicking on “Show More”, quoting including the ALL CAPS:

“DO NOT WORK THERE YOU WILL REGRET IT!! DONT LET THEM LIE TO YOU WITH THE PAY OF $10 A HOUR NOT WORTH IT
I FELT MISTREATED, FELT LIKE A SLAVE, THEY LOWERED MY SELF ESTEEM BY TELLING ME I DONT WORK HARD ENOUGH EVEN THOUGH I WAS THE FIRST ON TO FINISH.
THIS JOB SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE DEPT OF LABOR

Advice to Management

Fix Your Attitude care about your employees dont over do the staff be reasonable be fair try everybody equally and so on such a bad experience.”

 

Slavery hasn’t been abolished (Oct. 2017)

Leaders treat you like a slave (May 2018)

For this company you are numbers, robots, machines, you are no humans. (Dec. 2017)

 

A full review from June 2018 without the term “slave” or “slavery” but with very clear words on the subject:

Hellhole!”

“0 respect for employees
Too much stress, let’s face it pret, you’re a sandwich shop
Not that good wages anymore, everyone around you is raising the hourly wages, 10p is not enough
Communication sucks
Crazy standards impossible to follow
0 motivation for staff, if you treat people like they’re useless and worthless, they won’t work so well anymore
Employees are the blood of the company, not customers, not ingredients, not the shops, TREAT PEOPLE PROPERLY!!!!

Rethink your whole policies, they sucks, get down from that high horse you’re on

 

PLUS scrolling down in the comments on YouTube to Branzinotito’s comment:

Horrible Company Pret

 

 

On Andrej’s Pret Union video more comments:

 

logic 2000: “… pret is pure exploitation of foreign workers modern day slavery. systematic abuse disguised as productivity target.”

2012 Andrej Stopa Video Comments1a

 

… and further …

 

Saif Khan: “Pret exploits and abuse their employees. ..thats true fact…I can say after working 5 years there..”

2012 Andrej Stopa Video Comments4

 

etc. etc.

 

PLUS comprehensive, but not exhaustive list of Pret staff complaints and selected quotes from the list.

 

I added comments in the PDF document with more extensive thoughts on some points.

 


 

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 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Pret A Monkey Business

IMG_20180710_174435

 

A Team Leader (TL) and a Development Manager (DM) are stranded on a large island far out in the ocean. The island is inhabited by monkeys. The DM lives deep in the jungle and has learned to arrange herself with the monkeys. The TL has built her hut close to the water and provides the monkeys with fish to eat. The DM and the TL speak the same language that the monkeys don’t understand. DM and TL don’t know each other and that there is someone on this island who speaks the same language. Only the monkeys know about them.

The TL by the water is stomping on the island too much, she is too noisy because no-one understands her language and pain. She is constantly placed under monkeys who give her a hard time on top of her ordeal. The monkeys scheme and plan on how to get rid of TL, as she refuses to be like them and conform to being a monkey. TL’s bereavement is an inconvenience, or as one higher monkey complained twice in writing that TL’s situation (bereavement) was “imposed” on him. Imagine a leader complaining that a physically disabled person, or a person of another skin tone or religion or sexual orientation… is “imposed” on him. Phew! Would the monkeys go coconuts and there’d be trouble in the jungle! But all TL just wants to do is to fish and go back to her hut to come to terms and grieve in peace, after the unclear cause of death of her brother far away from the island.

But deep in the jungle there is a group called Monkey Resources (MR), and after many tricks and traps and substantiating grievance hearings a little bit here and a little bit there, to make it look like they care and to not get in trouble with the gorillas (law), MR has the ultimate brilliant foolproof idea! Never underestimate a monkey, they are clever feisty little things!

TL just won’t stop to raise issues of discrimination and unfairness by the monkeys, not realizing that MR is in the monkey business. Stupid TL! TL is alone in her struggle and keeps approaching MR for help and to raise issues of bad treatment during bereavement. TL is protecting the other Team Members from her turmoil and puts on a brave face not wanting to burden her team and not wanting to involve anyone as they would be intimidated by fear management of the monkeys anyway.

Unfortunately her approach which was informal and peaceful in the beginning turned into painful and ill approach in time, fueled by post traumatic issues and helplessness. The monkeys tried everything, from bullying and targeting, fear management, counseling after TL sent a message to King Kong of the island, trying to pay her out peanuts if she leaves the island… Nothing worked, because the immediate monkeys that were over TL kept mistreating her, often very subtle if open mistreatment was caught out. It never stopped. TL was too exhausted in grief to find another island and couldn’t afford to take a longer break away, as fishing wasn’t the most lucrative work for her. She kept being hysterical in her grief and pain. The ocean itself was hard to cross and the countless tears added to that ocean.

 

pexels-photo-262333

 

But monkeys have sleeves, too, where they hide their Ace. And DM was that Ace in place. They approached DM who has arranged herself well with the monkeys, and tasked her to go down to the beach where the rebel TL is rocking the boat too much. Actually she wasn’t going down to the beach, TL had to go deep into the jungle to meet DM.

When TL met DM to get a sanction for stomping the ground too much, DM started speaking the language TL understood, and silly TL started to believe that the monkeys really care now! Wow, there is a person on this island who speaks my language??!!!

What TL did not know was that DM wasn’t supposed to speak the same language (officially). DM was supposed to speak in secret with TL to calm her down. But TL kept getting confused why DM was so secretive, giving mixed messages and coming across manipulative, as DM happens to also be a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner, able to use those tools very well. Until six months later after MR started to investigate why TL has started to stomp the ground again, that’s when DM finally admitted to TL that she wasn’t “technically” allowed to speak the same language with TL. Aaahh! Now you’re talking! Now TL understood why she was often so confused and frustrated, even lashing out in anger when drunk in the hut!

This and TL’s father submitted into intensive care in a coma, seeing him so ill, thrust TL in a new ill behaviour rocking the boat so much. Losing the hut on the beach, TL was thrown from the island of Pret A Monkey into the ocean while TL’s father was in hospital, by that time just out of the coma across the ocean far away. TL “swam” over the ocean to her father, made peace with him for whatever was outstanding, stood by his side as best as possible. TL’s dad has died now and TL is still swimming in the ocean, but out of reach of the monkeys. At least.

TL is swimming in a pool of loss. Being introduced to a person who speaks the same language just to be given a sanction by that person, is inconceivable. And it is scary what else the monkeys are capable of.

 

Dear Director of HR,

I am sorry to be writing a third open letter to you and so bluntly, but once you have read the first two letters, you most probably won’t be going back to them after I edited some things I forgot to mention. So, I write a third letter, and it can be seen as a bottle post I have thrown into the ocean, in the hopes this reaches you well.

It is still very painful for me what your HR department under the Head of HR has done to me and how they have dealt with my trauma from the beginning. I made the mistake to stay too long and try too hard to change work conditions internally. I know you have taken some things on board, even used some of my suggestions and ideas, thank you for that. But you take the credit for it while I suffered and remained under difficult management. I know I was loud, I did everything wrong I could have done wrong. I was in a lot of pain.

All I needed was management who were confident, skilled, and plain normal while remaining respectful. At the end I found such a manager, or rather he found me! I even worked with him a few days, helping him out in his shop, or actually he was more helping me to get in more hours since my hours at my shop were radically cut to zero during the Christmas period, and me having to find a shop to get hours. And I felt for the first time in a very long time really valued and respected at work. This manager is not “Pret-entious”, he is as organic as they come. Even just having met him a few times, it was clear in my gut that he is an honest soul, respecting his staff. But again, it wasn’t meant to be! Another higher manager (OPs) snatched me away from this great GM into this OPs’ new area because of the way I work, raising the standard and with it the success of every shop I worked in.

But that aside, what was the most painful and disrespectful thing the HR department has done to me, that absolutely crossed the line, was to use the development manager who has a very similar loss than I have. But instead of putting us in contact to support each other in our common bereavement, she was used to sanction me. I’d like to explain why I called this in my second note to you “perverse”. And again, I’m sorry to be using such a strong word, but this is the only word I can find for this. And I will continue to search for a better word to redefine how I feel. Certainly a Tribunal Judge found better words to describe the HR process of hearings when he called it “fundamentally flawed” (page 9 top). That was 8 years ago, and I can confirm that it still is this way today. And something that is “fundamentally” flawed will not change so quick, as the foundation always takes the longest to build and rebuild.

Only since recently have I learned and realised that what your HR department has done to me, especially via “DM”, was gaslighting me. That’s why this felt so, and why I can only describe this as perverse.

I know you are busy in the background with what legal action you can take against my public outcry once that email confirmation from the Employment Tribunal has been received. And you certainly will give me a bad reference for any future employment. That is your prerogative. My prerogative is, that after I almost lost my life, certainly my mental health and job, having given so much to Pret in my 10 years even during the most excruciating bereavement while being mistreated, I will use whatever freedom I have to speak about my ordeal after having tried for three years to speak with you internally. I always played with open cards which was to my disadvantage. And I have certainly done everything wrong with all the terrible emailing to Pret and others. I will always be ashamed for this and I cannot describe the pain and trauma I was in, and still am in. I have found that I am not the only “crazy” person out there in the ocean of mental illness. And I continue to play with open cards, no matter what unfair and dishonest tricks anyone throws at me. I am willing to lose even more, but I will not stop to speak up.

How HR has dealt with my situation and ultimately how they dealt with my bereavement as explained in the metaphor above, is so painful to me, as if someone died again. This was too much and crossed a line that was better not crossed. It may sound funny to you, but I have been much more patient with Pret, than you with me. I was alone and made that mistake to put myself into the shoes of a multi million pound company, a company the same judge above calls “highly sophisticated” and shouldn’t be making errors like they have.

Being introduced to “DM” just to get a sanction from her for my emailing, who then entered into solely “electronic” communication with me, where in reality we were not allowed to openly speak with each other even though we have similar loss. The disciplinary which became not valid because of our contact and me subsequently getting dismissed for emailing, while she is safe and protected in her job. This support being taken away again, is like having to bury a person again. Do you know what emotional torture this is?

It is like holding a glass of fresh, cold water in front of a person who just crawled through a torching desert, just to take that glass away again and thrust that person back into the desert! It is unspeakably painful, and the only way I go on is to speak about it, no matter what you do against me. I am intrigued about the next tricks I am being served with after my public outcry here.

I never claimed that I’m “doing the right thing naturally”. That is your claim.

In the meantime keep reading staff complaints >>> worldwide.

Kind regards,

Late Night Girl

Late Night Girl2

 


 

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 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

How To Exhaust The HR Department

And How To Do Impartial Grievance Hearings:

 

Grievance Hearing 1.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager hold the grievance hearing raised against a colleague from his immediate neighbouring area, as this will compromise a truly impartial investigation and decision.
  • Don’t have the hearing manager patronize and hold the person raising the grievance for an idiot, by asking if 40 or 50 out-of-date items were left by an MOD over night, while the grievance raiser left only 1 item out and was about to get penalized for it by the manager who targeted her. You may look more absurd in the long run for a poor try like this.
  • Don’t remove the HR advisor from the hearing process, who raised the grievance in the first place on behalf of the bereaved and bullied employee, giving hope to that traumatized staff member. Doing so would cause the crushing of hope again, starting a series of events that could have been avoided early on if everything was conducted fairly, impartially and respectfully.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

Appeal’s Hearing 1.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager hold the appeal’s hearing who is not only a known colleague, but a close friend of the first grievance hearing manager. As it would be difficult going against the decision of a friend, this will compromise a truly impartial investigation and decision.
  • Don’t speak to the colleague the grievance is raised against before you hear all the allegations raised first, as you won’t be impartial and would have already pre-judged the case more or less.
  • Don’t instruct the person who raised the grievance to go to the person the grievance is against, to inform them what was spoken about in the appeal’s hearing to prepare the one who grieved the employee that the grievance is about to be partially substantiated against them. Be a manager of integrity and courage, and do that job yourself, not sending the grievance raiser like a sheep to the wolf, if you don’t have the stamina to do that yourself!

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

————————————————————————————

 

Grievance Hearing 2.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager doing the hearing who was already involved in the case by having been copied in on emails sent to managers and HR previously.
  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing, who has no problem whatsoever that a bereaved and traumatized team leader is repeatedly rebuked by her line manager in front of the team, the team leader then having a nervous breakdown two days before the first anniversary of the death of her brother, and being further bullied by having to do customer service while in the middle of that breakdown in tears. If you as the hearing manager have no problems with this, you should not only not be the hearing manager, you should resign and rethink your ethical values and emotional intelligence.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

Appeal’s Hearing 2.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager doing the hearing who has also already been informed prior to the hearing of being asked to sit down informally to calm down the bereaved and traumatized employee who kept losing her mind. Even if you are one of the more empathetic hearing managers compared to the others, you would still not be impartial.
  • Don’t be double-faced by saying that it is okay to email but then behind the scenes sending on the emails to HR who later penalized the person for having sent the emails.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

————————————————————————————

 

Grievance Hearing 3.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager doing the hearing who already finds answers and reasons of misbehaviour before having fully heard and investigated the case.
  • Don’t let the hearing manager just substantiate bits and pieces to silence the grievance raiser, while the people business partner the grievance is against, is waiting outside in plain view pretending to be on the phone, winking at the HR advisor accompanying the grievance raiser out of the hearing.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

Grievance Appeal 3.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing who is brand new to the company having to prove herself in her trial period, after another hearing manager who was indeed not impartial as having been informed throughout, was removed from the process upon request by the grievance raiser.
  • Don’t have that hearing manager who is a head of a department have a laugh during a very serious hearing process.
  • Don’t have a note taker who compares the traumatized bereaved with another traumatized bereaved employee, judging both as being “bitter” because they keep raising grievances due to mistreatment during bereavement. Not taking their issues serious may hurt their lives irrevocably.
  • Don’t have that note taker say, that in hindsight he made a mistake by agreeing that the company can indeed improve on the supporting of the bereaved employee.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

————————————————————————————

 

Disciplinary Hearing 1.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing who has personal conflict due to very similar bereavement.
  • Don’t have that hearing manager enter into secret and solely electronic communication after giving a disciplinary for electronic communication.
  • Don’t have that hearing manager take personal advantage of the vulnerable and traumatised grievance raiser, by abusing their position in using tools of Hypnotherapy and NLP for their own studies, and personal as well as occupational advantages.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

Appeal’s Hearing 0.0

No Appeal raised due to naivety and plain stupidity of having believed to be truly supported by the company now.

Dont’s:

  • Traumatized Bereaved Grievance Raiser, don’t trust an HR department and company who repeatedly hold flawed hearings.

Do’s:

  • Do regret not having raised an appeal and gone to court early on due to repeated lack of impartiality and “fundamentally flawed” hearings.
  • Do learn from this that if this happens again to raise a grievance against the hearing manager abusing their position for personal gain.

————————————————————————————

 

Grievance Hearing 5.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager and HR advisor hold the hearing where you have to start the formal procedure as they kept starring at you, not knowing how to start.
  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing who is at first empathetic, even sharing personal information in an informal moment, confirming that the grievance raiser has “been wronged” and then later be completely the opposite, as HR is really behind the decisions.
  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing who does not investigate and interviews witnesses named.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

No Appeal raised as it was useless and ridiculous to keep going on in this flawed system. But one gets the point!

————————————————————————————

 

Dismissal Hearing 1.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing to patronize the grievance raiser by being the OPs manager of the manager the grievance raiser loved to work with. Another clever “retaliation” by HR choosing “impartial” hearing managers.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

Dismissal Appeal 1.0

Dont’s:

  • Don’t have a manager hold the hearing who just sits there purposefully not saying anything to avoid to truly investigate impartially by asking questions.
  • Don’t have a note taker who is so slow in taking notes, not attentive enough to follow what is being said, unless there is no other note taker anymore, due to the grievance raiser having exhausted the largest department of the company.

Do’s:

  • Do have a truly impartial Manager and HR Note Taker to do the hearing.
  • Do indeed hold a truly impartial grievance hearing.

———————————————————————————— .

 

How To’s and Tips for a Formal Hearing:

Dont’s:

  • Don’t discriminate by just using mainly women to hold the hearings (17 women/3 men).

Do’s

  • Be truly equal opportunity by giving male managers a chance to hold a hearing for / against a female employee. Unless, of course, the challenge is too grave for them.
  • Do rethink your HR department and if the methods of hearings are so steeped in dishonesty and trickery, that it is hard to break that habit and open new windows to bring in fresh air and clean a toxic environment.
  • Do remember that you are dealing with people, with human beings who go through personal and professional issues that can make them ill and even take their lives. Do remember the name and mission of your department: Human Resources.

Sincerely,

Your HR Department Exhaust-er

 

File2016

The “Ex-Files”!

 

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.

 

An IMAGINARY but honest Interview with Pret A Manger

 

Pixabay_interview-2071228__340

 

LNG: Thank you for your time and agreeing to do an imaginary but honest and transparent interview, this has been a long time in the making and I am grateful you finally agree to give us an unprecedented look into your business, especially staff treatment, and what makes you stand out on the high street.

PAM: Oh, no problem at all. Sorry it took so long to agree to an imaginary yet open and honest interview, but we’ve been really busy with our success as you know.

LNG: Yes, well done! May I call you Pret?

PAM: Sure, we love to be on first name basis here. We are family.

LNG: Thank you, you can call me what your CEO calls me.

PAM: Great! Okay Late Night Girl, what do you want to know about our company?

LNG: My first question….

PAM: (interrupts) Oh, would you like a coffee? On the house? The first hit is always free! 😉

LNG: No, thank you, I brew my own! 🙂

 

Coffee paper cups

 

 

LNG: So, my first question is, what is the secret ingredient to your success?

PAM: Well, if we stay on the first name we have a secret spelling system here, we love to work with acronyms to really emphasize that we mean business when it comes to motivating our staff. Pret is French for “ready”, so, Pret A Manger means “ready to eat”. Fast food, but made in the kitchens on the premises. But it is not just food ready to eat, we want our staff to always be “ready to work” come rain come shine, in good days and in bad days, till FS do us part.

L: What’s FS?

P: That’s another meaning, “FS” is the Firing Squad, but officially they are called “HR”, meaning Human Resources, of course. Our HR department have a really great slogan to sell their mission as, “Doing the right thing naturally”, and people buy into this slogan without questioning it, as PC is too common. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? HR don’t do the dismissing themselves, no, they like others to execute this nitty-gritty muddy business. They…

L: (interrupts) What’s PC now?

P: Oh, common’?!

L: Ah, yeah, right. Sorry.

P: Tztz, you didn’t do your homework when preparing for this interview?! You don’t know our 6 P’s?!

L: No, no, yes, uhm, I know them all! (nods) It’s just a lot to remember what you give your staff to memorize.

P: Yes, that is how brainwashing works, repeated bombardment of silly word games.

L: Sure.

P: So, where were we?

L: With HR not doing the dirty work.

 

ronald-mcdonald-you-re-fired-meme

 

P: Ah yeah, so they fire indirectly using their operational side of the business, managers who are tasked to hold hearings that are “fundamentally flawed” as one Tribunal Judge called it, they are unfair and only impartial if we need to cover ourselves.

L: Ah! So, it’s a lot to do with fear management?

P: You got it.

 

L: And how does the fear management work exactly? Talk me through a typical day in a Pret shop.

P: No problem. First of all, we don’t like to be known as a sandwich “factory”, even though we are hundreds of little sandwich factories. So, we put intensive incentives in place, pay a little bit more here, give a little more holidays there, put on elaborate parties, let the kitchens play loud and fast music to speed up their work pace and avoid them talking too much with each other wasting our precious time, no matter if they get a head ache or a tinnitus etc. etc.

But our real main ingredient and the real spelling behind our acronym as already hinted early on is, Pret really is a four letter F-word spelled F E A R. It means Fire Early As Requested or with the nickname of “Fret” to make it more appealing. Fear management is the main motivator for our lovely and hard working people, but we facade this in the perfect packaging of “Good Jobs for Good People”. We have a lot of good people, but after a while they get so burned out, feel devalued and dehumanized that they are not “good” anymore, and there are plenty of young people lining up for the job. We give out disciplinaries like napkins, we make sure that our staff always worry about their job security, and we don’t tolerate people being vulnerable (takes a sip from the organic coffee).

L: What do you mean by “vulnerable”?

P: Well, simply inconvenient occasions like bereavement or even mental illness of our staff. We feel that especially bereavement is “imposed” on us. That’s not nice.

L: (looking confused) So, it would be best to not be vulnerable, as staff wouldn’t be safe in their jobs?

P: That’s right.

 

L: So, if staff are bereaved, or suffer from a mental illness or disability that might affect their day-to-day work, and even if they work still really good while in bereavement, there is no policy in place to protect them from potentially being bullied by superiors?

P: Yes, something like that. We have a large HR department, larger than the IT or even food team. But it isn’t large enough yet, as one of our former employees has exhausted our HR department after being bullied during bereavement and being held low in shops. So we want to expand our HR staff to not let this happen again.

L: Wow! Must have been hard work. But at least you learned from this and won’t let the bullying happen again. That’s great.

P: No, we won’t let it happen again that anyone approaches HR with their concern about bereavement and bullying like this anymore, even though we advised that person (whom the CEO called his “late night girl”) to raise grievances, as we didn’t want to interfere with how the managers were mistreating her. As we don’t have an anti-bullying policy in place to protect the bereaved, we aim to divert to the grievance procedure as we don’t want to admit that we have a huge problem. A grievance procedure often deters the employee to raise the issue formally, as this is quite stressful to have to come up with all the evidence, not to mention becoming a target after speaking up.

For other issues like sexual orientation, pregnant women, physical disabilities, religious beliefs, equal opportunities etc. we have a strong and clear zero tolerance policy on discrimination, because there are laws in place and we would get into trouble if we’d let those groups be bullied. Sometimes we even use any of the above groups in discrimination to get rid of other inconvenient employees, the laws for the protection of the above groups really come in handy here, even if we have to tweak our reason for dismissal a little.

And our luck is that there are no laws to protect the bereaved, we can openly and even in writing express that this is “imposed” on us without any problems. We just don’t really want to bother with grief and mental issues, even while we know that we all will die, and 1 in 4 of us will at one point or another suffer from a mental health condition. Death and illness can happen to any person at any time for any reason. But we don’t want to think about it and want to just concentrate on the material world with all the money that can be made. If you work for us, your mind needs to be of steel and you better have “Metal” Health.

L: Just like a machine or a robot?

P: Exactly!

L: I see. Hm…

P: You’re catching on fast, I like that.

L: Oh, thank you, I feel honoured! *blushing*

 

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P: So, to finish the thought, we pride ourselves in our HR department. They are super busy with all the grievances raised and disciplinaries issued, and of course the firing squad, ready to fire anytime for any and no reason (checking the phone as a text message comes in).

L: Sounds quite efficient. I’m impressed.

P: Thank you. Yes, could we speed this up a little? I have to attend to some business.

L: Sure, just finally I’d like to throw some questions out that you cannot skip, but have to answer honestly.

P: Uuuh, I’m intrigued, fire away!

 

L: Who was the first one you ever kissed?

P: Oh, I’ll never forget my first kiss! It was McDonald’s. We even got married so I can get a green card to the U.S. But we are divorced now, as I gotten my green card and dual citizenship now and won’t need McD anymore. But we are still friends.

L: Any kids?

P: Naa, we were always married more to our jobs, and our different tastes in food finally split us up! Career is more important, and as soon as I had my foot in the door to the U.S. our divorce was imminent.

L: It was a “marriage of convenience” then?

P: You got it!

L: I see. Okay, while on the subject of super mergers, what super powers would you like to have?

P: To fire all the shop staff in one go and exchange them with perfect smiley robots that are so real looking to customers unlike the current prototypes, fooling them, and so increase our profits even more. That way we won’t have to deal with staff not being as productive when they go through personal issues like bereavement or illness. We also won’t have to deal with any human being thinking for themselves. But mostly that way we can truly “man” all the tills at all times and have enough staff, almost more than customers. We could even place a human looking robot with each and every customer, raising sales going through the roof. We would also scrap the Misery Shopper, as we won’t need them anymore since we have perfect robots. Can you imaging the amount this would slice off our labour costs and bring out the maximum? (sigh, what a dream!) But it also means that we would need to rethink the HR department, maybe turning them into mechanics fixing the robots when they break. (ponder ponder)

 

L: Sorry, what did you say, the what? The “Misery” Shopper?? What’s that?

P: Did I say that??

L: Uhm, that’s what I heard.

P: Sorry, I meant the Mystery Shopper *smile*

L: Maybe I just misheard as I had a miserable coffee this morning! The competition hey. Should have gone to Pret instead!

P: Yes, that’s it, it’s all your fault! You misheard, it was your mistake, not mine! It’s one of our important Pret attributes, always blame downwards, never take responsibility.

 

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L: Okay back to my questions. What time period would you like to visit, past, present or future?

P: The future, always the future as the present is a blur and the past is done with and not worth keeping fond memories of. We move on quickly, whoever can’t keep up with the pace will be left behind.

L: No regrets then, huh?

P: Hello? We are Pret we don’t regret!

L: I see. Who would you like to collaborate with in business?

P: Anyone and No one. Anyone who could pour more money into us, so that we can squeeze even more out of our workers to repay the investors. We don’t like to share the spoils except only with our HQ people and high up leaders. But if we do have a moment of generosity with our shops, it is mainly to try and keep them before they leave or our aim to win new ones (whispers: Brexit’s advancing fast now).

 

L: What is your greatest accomplishment?

P: Okay, that’s another tough one, as we have so many. But I would say… (looking up at the ceiling, tapping with the fingers on the coffee cup) I’d say it really is our HR department with that ever impressive slogan of “Doing the right thing naturally”.

L: What do you value so much that you would put your money where your mouth is, so-to-speak?

P: Again, investing in our HR department, making them bigger, even though they are already bigger than any of the other departments. We’d like them to give more disciplinaries, neglecting the bereaved and mentally ill, and fire faster. Any support that is in place, most are just Pret-ense for our own fear of the Tribunal, as we like to live up to our name.

L: Which was what again?

P: F E A R.

L: Ah yeah, that’s right.

 

L: What was the moment when you felt you’ve made it?

P: When our staff bought into fear management and unnecessary pressure.

 

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L: What was the scariest encounter you’ve ever had?

P: Tribunal Judges at first, but when we lose our case in court, we just pay the peanuts the Judges order us to pay in compensation and then go back to business as usual. Our most scariest encounter will always be the customers and public pressure.

L: And the greatest?

P: All our hard working people in the shops, especially those with integrity and longevity during hard times. We really feel intimidated by them, as they show real passion which we only Pret-end to have for them. But don’t tell them, they need to think that they are not valued and their work is never good enough, so they work harder until they burn out and are exchanged with “fresh blood”. It’s like one of our main acronyms: FIFO, First In First Out or our internal acronym BPOFBI: Black Pudding Out Fresh Blood In. If they find out our tactics, it would also be the most embarrassing encounter, but that’s between us.

L: Of course! You do love your acronyms and slogans, don’t you?

P: (Smiling) It’s what makes Pret PRet!

L: Yes, Pret is next to nothing when it comes to PR.

P: That’s right, we are especially successful in this by employing former homeless people to confirm this when the pressure on us gets high to explain why we treat our staff so poorly. The CEO invites a group once a year to his private Austrian property, and that way we win them for our reputation to speak up for us should we reap criticism from the public regarding staff treatment. We also aim to not integrate them too much into regular Pret shops, but am working on having shops run entirely by former homeless people, as they won’t cope in the long-run in a regular mainstream Pret shop, with all the bullying and high stress environment. It wouldn’t look good on our PR.

 

L: Makes sense. To continue with the questions, which food item are you currently working on to be the best selling of all time, not only in Pret but in the world.

P: Well, now you want to know some secrets here, what food item our food team is working on. I can’t let you in on that one, even though I agreed to do an open and honest interview. But I will say this much: it has to do with the Hearts of our staff.

L: Interesting! Similar to dishes like Liver Mousse or Kidney Pâté, but only with Hearts? Like Hearts on a Platter? Are some Minds part of the new stew as well? Oooh, I can’t wait for the new product launch!!

P: (motions with a gesture of sealed lips)

L: What, if any, is your hidden talent?

P: Doing the wrong thing naturally.

 

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L: On a personal level, which instrument would you like to play?

P: Hearts and Minds.

L: You can only choose one!

P: That’s not fair! I can’t choose! *biting on the coffee lid*

L: Well, strive for perfection here, a little extra mile will go a long way.

P: Okay Minds, as Hearts are often broken already and useless therefor. The Mind still needs tuning and somewhat breaking like a wild horse that is thinking on its feet too much. We are not in the horse whispering business, we break them!

 

L: Starbucks or Caffee Nero?

P: Pret!

L: Prosciutto or Posh Cheddar?

P: Well, since we go towards more Vegan, it would be Hearts. Organic Hearts of course!

L: Of course!

L: Mystery Shopper visits or Senior Management visits.

P: (regaining posture after the Heart vs Mind decision) Senior Management visits of course, we love to see the nervousness and fear on the faces of our managers and teams when we walk into shops.

L: Makes sense, that F E A R thing again, I really get to know you now and how consistent you are, very reliable.

P: (lifting the head with pride) Thank you. Now I am almost blushing.

L: Comedy or Drama?

P: Since we have too much Drama already, I’d choose Comedy, although they both go very close together in our company.

 

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L: Which micromanaging rule are you most proud of and why?

P: Letting our staff sign countless training rules without having the time to really train. We just like to cover our backs.

L: Which other countries would you like to conquer for Pret?

P: The whole world of course, even jungles where the monkeys live.

 

L: While on the subject of monkeys, if you were an animal, what would you be?

P: A Pret-Bull.

L: Why?

P: We like to look intimidating to our staff, but they don’t know that barking dogs don’t bite. We only bite together in groups and when we smell fear, which brings us back to fear management.

L: All well thought out then.

P: Yes. Are you sure you don’t want that coffee? It’s free!

L: No, thank you.

 

L: Final question, what was the best advise you’ve ever received?

P: Hire fast and fire even faster. Made today, gone today.

L: Thank you.

P: Well, that was fun!

L: Yeah, wasn’t that bad, was it? It must feel good to be honest.

P: Absolutely, never thought it would feel so relieving. I’ve learned a lot about myself today. Well, unfortunately, since it is lunch time I have to get back to the pub with my OPs managers for a few pints while our good and hard working people make it happen for us.

L: Of course, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. And thank you for this imaginary but honest and open interview.

P: Any time! And let me know whenever you want that free coffee 😉

L: Thank you. But no thank you. I am on my way to interview Sainsbury’s, one of the big ones to have signed up for the Disability Confident employer scheme, I want to avoid too many toilet breaks during this important interview.

P: Disability what?

 

L: Never mind, you wouldn’t be interested in that.

P: I guess you’re right. We need to keep that fear thing going.

L: That’s what I meant. Thanks again. See you again soon. *not*

P: Yes, oh while you are with them, could you ask them if they would be keen to have a Pret shop inside their supermarkets, like Costa does with Tesco with those rather unhygienic automates? That way at least we could Pret-end again to be part of this Disability thing you talk about without really being part of it of course. 😉

L: I see what I can do… *not*

 

Late Night Girl2

©2018 LateNightGirl.org Poetrasblok.com

 

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.

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