Wetherspoon Employee Left Feeling ‘Disgusted’ And ‘Utterly Disheartened’ Over Lack Of Pay
A pregnant woman who works for the JD Wetherspoon chain has been left feeling ‘utterly disheartened’ over the way the company handled its closures.
Shannon, a soon-to-be mum-of-two from Edinburgh, has worked as a receptionist at a Wetherspoon hotel for almost six years. With a four-year-old child to look after, a baby on the way, as well as bills to pay and food to buy, her job was of course essential.
Last week, Boris Johnson announced the closure of all UK pubs and restaurants in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus, meaning Wetherspoons across the UK have had to close their doors.
The government has said it will pay workers 80% of their salaries at firms such as Wetherspoon, though affected employees fear the payment will take some time to arrive.
Some companies have promised to continue paying staff to ensure they are not left empty handed. However, on Monday, March 23, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin sent a video message to 40,000 members of staff telling them they would not be paid after Friday, March 27, while the company works out details of the government’s pay.
As she is pregnant, 23-year-old Shannon is considered ‘vulnerable’ when it comes to coronavirus. She was relieved when she heard her establishment would be closing as she had been ‘very anxious about attending work’ during the pandemic. Martin was previously critical of government advice to the public about avoiding pubs, and branded a shutdown ‘over the top’.
However, while Shannon saw the closure as a positive, she was not prepared for the lack of pay. Wetherspoon’s bonus scheme, due to pay out on Friday, has also been paused until pubs reopen.
Describing how she felt when she heard the news, Shannon told UNILAD:
I felt utterly disheartened. I don’t blame my pub personally because I know the managers and staff work so, so hard to keep [Martin’s] establishments as successful as they are and they are also not being paid.
His staff are the reason his business is where it is today and he clearly doesn’t appreciate or care about their health or wellbeing at all. It is truly a horrible feeling knowing we aren’t appreciated.
I won’t be able to prepare for the arrival of my baby or [buy] anything for my four-year-old. I won’t be able to pay bills needed to keep my house going, energy supply, our food supply. Being a pregnant mother is extremely stressful as it is, especially in current pandemic, and he’s just massively added to this.
Martin acknowledged concerns there could be a delay to wage subsidy, and told his employees they should feel free to take jobs at supermarkets while Wetherspoon pubs remain closed, BBC News reports.
If you’re offered a job… if you think it’s a good idea, do it.
We’ve had lots of calls from supermarkets, Tesco alone want to recruit more than 20,000 people – more than half the number of people who work at our pubs.
Shannon accused Martin of only ‘thinking about himself’ while encouraging his staff to look for other jobs, adding:
[It is] completely ridiculous to encourage your loyal staff to go work elsewhere so he isn’t out of pocket.
Many Wetherspoon workers have taken to social media to express their anger in recent days, and the company’s response to the closures has even caused one location to be vandalised, with the words ‘pay your staff’ graffitied on a Wetherspoon window in London.
Shannon herself took to Twitter to share her frustrations, and though she knows she may be disciplined for the tweet, she argued she is ‘fighting for [her] rights and over 40,000 others using the powers of social media.’
The 23-year-old believes Martin should have been ‘much more sympathetic towards his employees’ during what is a difficult time.
We’ve all been working during this whole pandemic putting ourselves and families at risk for his company and he can’t even help us out financially.
I didn’t expect much if I’m very honest but I did think he would at least pay us up until receiving the government grant.
In response to the backlash from employees, Martin denied abandoning his staff and claimed the company simply could not afford to continue paying wages.
As per The Guardian, Martin commented:
Companies like Costa, owned by Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s, being owned by large multinationals, can afford to retain staff and commit to paying them, before details of the government furlough scheme are published.
However, they are in a minority in the pub and restaurant trade. Most companies, including Wetherspoon, do not have the resources, while pubs are shut, to make this commitment and need to see details of the scheme in order to retain and pay staff, as the government has sensibly requested, rather than instigating large-scale layoffs.
That may seem stark, but that’s the economic reality of the unprecedented situation in the UK today.
Some Wetherspoon employees have now become part of a ‘national campaign’ fighting for ‘everything [they] deserve’, including 100% of their wages and no gap in pay.
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