Day 20 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar
Above picture is from the Business Insider article … trash dumped from ships could be a major culprit.
Regular readers who know my blog know that I mainly write about Pret A Manger staff issues, systemic workplace bullying, exploitation etc. My own story is at the bottom of this page in the audio player interview on a podcast.
I read a lot of comments from environmentalists and vegans who do their activism on plastic pollution and animal welfare. When I mention how Pret staff are treated behind the smiley facade, many respond along the lines of “yes, but … plastic … but vegan … but ….”
It amazes me how people separate people from waste and animal issues. Yes, of course we all have our area of activism, I campaign mainly on employment issues, but I’m also working on being more environmental friendly, eat less meat already etc. And no, any vegan out there, don’t judge me regarding eating meat. I understand the passion behind these campaigns. But from an employment perspective, people are going in circles when they go on Twitter complaining to Pret that a Barista was handed a reusable mug for a latte, but the Barista used a paper cup to measure the coffee in, poured it into the reusable mug, and then threw the paper cup away.
Pret then responds in a generic way, with their usual copy and paste sentences of ,”oh no” and “which shop this was from”… pretending to be surprised and care. Thus, the customer gets off Pret’s back, assuming it’s just a stupid Barista not having gotten the memo!
Reality is still too much for most customers to handle.
Pret A Manger, like many large corporations are a profit-driven, now multi-billion pound company under private equity. Low-wage staff are neither trained nor does Pret care to educate and tackle the waste problem. The public for most part just assume that it is a long way for Pret to get on top of this, while in reality waste is cheaper. And it is cheaper to not employ more staff to work on dishes. And it is cheaper to keep work spaces small and customer areas expanded for more profit, thus not creating room for dishwashers and stock room for crockery, metal cutlery etc. It’s always about money. Period.
People ignore that the plastic ocean has a lot to do with big corporations dumping plastic waste into the ocean, that was supposed to be shipped to other countries for recycling. Dumping plastic waste into the ocean is, again, cheaper than bringing it to recycling facilities in those countries.
Apart from above article, I can recommend to watch the documentary The Change by a group of students who started to scratch the surface on the ship waste dumping. These guys made an experiment of living for one week completely plastic free, and how challenging that is. I only found the trailer, but if anyone can find the whole film, I can only recommend it:
These students only started to scratch the surface on the plastic-dumping ships. And it makes sense of course that it is not you and I, sitting on the beach with a cocktail, sipping through a plastic straw, and after we finished the drink we threw the plastic straw into the ocean! Nah, that’s not how the countless tons of plastic ended up in the ocean. We only try in our frivolous way to aim for bio-degradable straws and bring our own reusable mugs.
Pret and other multi-billion pound companies just do these ridiculous little things like paper straws as a smoke screen and whatever else the government order firms to do. And the reality continues, keeping the rest of the business swamped with waste, and no-one’s waking up, yet. Yes, of course every little helps, and every little start is a start. But Pret A Manger and other large chains CAN implement change much faster than they do! Believe me, I know how fast Pret can change things IF it affects their profit! Believe me! I have seen it! And reading Pret’s Tweets, that over many months customers complain about plastic cutlery, and then they complain about the wooden fork, and then the flat soup spoons etc. And the wooden cutlery disappears again, and then it’s being re-introduced again … and the chaos continues! Inconsistent, inefficient, ineffective.
Plastic cutlery and napkins were removed, doors were closed with signs on them to save energy when Extinction Rebellion hit town, then when Extinction Rebellion left, the cutlery was moved back to the bin station customer area and the doors were opened again.
There’s is a chaotic mess with plastic vs. wooden cutlery, back and forth. And no-one is staying with it and digging deeper.
But back to the people issue. I write extensively and collect staff reviews on how Pret really treats their employees behind the happy facade. I give many examples with screenshots of what staff say in anonymity in: Caught in the Act Bullying in Pret.
And it is beyond me how we can separate people from issues like animal welfare and the waste problem. Pret staff get bullied to work fast for profit. If they don’t function, they get fear managed, all while faking a smile to not lose their job. If they don’t make friends with management they get fired fast. It’s the same elbow mentality like in big business.
This exhausts staff, makes them depressed, I was suicidal after being bullied during bereavement as Pret doesn’t want any “inconvenient” employees. Again, my story in the audio player at the bottom of this page.
Pret staff have thrown away brand new food products still in its boxed packaging to sabotage their bullying managers and ruin managers’ quarterly bonuses. Baristas using paper cups to measure liquids for reusable cups. I explain in my blog post Daily Food-waste in Plastic to Landfill why staff waste so much food. Shops are understaffed to maximize profit, staff are not paid for overtime.
And only few of the reviews and comments on social media by staff:
Slideshow can be paused
The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in → Pret Staff Complaints
If a company is only concerned about the profit margin and exploit their staff, save money on anything they can save on, the public remains fooled because change can come VERY quick if that is their priority.
If staff are exhausted, depressed and remain in low position and low pay even after years of employment, they stop caring. And this in turn reflects on the waste and even on animal welfare, as milk is wasted unnecessarily. Food, eggs, meat are wasted DAILY unnecessarily, because companies like Pret overproduce to raise the profit. And even with the humongous amount of waste every day, they make hundreds of millions of pounds annually.
Former CEO Clive Schlee pocketed £30 million on BONUS alone! Add to that all the other top leaders and share holders wages and bonuses! Even with all the waste, this is very lucrative and all the customer complaints on Twitter are a joke. Pret just gives their generic replies, and people swallow it so easily and get excited for a cheap free cookie or coffee. And then Pret raise the prices because someone needs to pay for all the freebies, and it won’t be Pret! I explain further in Free Coffees in Pret.
People don’t understand that things are connected!
If employees are treated with respect, reimbursed properly for their labour including paid overtime, have a saying in decisions etc. they will have the strength, motivation, resources and care to help tackle environmental issues.
I know Pret staff, I know how they talk behind customers’ backs and make fun of the vegan issue and waste problem. Low-wage workers who are upset at the cockiness of snobby customers. Employees who have no strength left to care. Staff suicides I continue to ask for independent investigation.
Two customers have died in Pret, a third incident was nearly fatal and numerous warnings ignored by Pret. And the public for the most part still live in LaLa Land. If Pret that didn’t act on customer deaths and ONLY slowly implementing change with the labelling BECAUSE the deaths became public, you are kidding yourself to believe that Pret cares about the environment!
Other companies can do it, like Black Sheep Coffee and many independent businesses. But people want to believe the fairy-tale that is Pret A Manger with their sweet-talk and little paper straws and wooden cutlery, while other waste issues remain.
How Black Sheep Coffee and other environmentally conscious firms treat their staff I don’t know, but my point is that it is possible to change the waste problem if this is truly a company’s priority.
And my main point is that if staff are treated well, they will care for the waste issue, animal welfare etc. So, if people want to continue to believe that Pret is an “ethical” company, please scroll down to the screenshots of this blog entry again.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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