Tim Martin has told his 40,000 staff at Wetherspoons they could face delays being paid and urged them to consider taking a job at supermarkets instead.
Wetherspoons sent a video sent to staff this week hosted by founder and chairman Tim Martin saying that his company would be making use of the new government wage subsidy scheme, but warned staff they would likely face delays in being paid through it.
The astonishing reluctance to support staff comes only days after J D Wetherspoon Plc released preliminary results for H1 FY20 period ended 26th January 2020 showing very significant profits.
- Revenue up by 4.9 per cent to £933 million during the period on Pre-IFRS 16 basis.
- Profit before tax was up by 15.2 per cent to £57.9 million on Pre-IFRS 16 basis.
- Operating Profit was up by 20.6 per cent to £76.6 million on Pre-IFRS 16 basis.
Martin has been extremely vocal in recent days saying that the government should keep pubs open, it is looking like profits come before people at Weatherspoon. Sitting on the profits realised only days ago, and now stalling workers on pay due to them.
According to the statement published below issued today by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), the Weatherspoon pub chain is allowing its 40,000 workers to go unpaid until they have been paid by the government.
“The government promised to pay about 80% of wages,” Martin said in the video, which was seen and reviewed by Yahoo Finance UK and others. “There’ll probably be some delays to paying it for which I also apologise but I feel sure they’re going to come through on their promise.”
In the meantime, Martin said Wetherspoon’s 40,000 staff could consider looking for work at a supermarket.
“We’ve had lots of calls from supermarkets,” he said. “Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them. That’s half the number of people who work in our pubs.
“If I’m being honest, I say you can get the furlough payments and stay at home. If you’re offered a job at a supermarket, many of you will want to do that. If you think it’s a good idea — do it. I can completely understand it.
“If you’ve worked for us before, I promise you we’ll give you first preference if you want to come back. We will obviously completely understand that you don’t want to wait around to re-open.”
The comments provoked criticism from unions and some Wetherspoon staff. The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) and SpoonStrike, a group set up to organise collective staff action at JD Wetherspoon, said the pub group had “no regard for the financial and mental wellbeing of their employees.”
“Whilst other companies such as Costa have promised their staff 8 weeks fully paid, Wetherspoons have left over 40,000 people without their next pay date, with no means of paying for rent, bills or food, and no warning,” the groups said in a statement posted on Twitter.
BFAWU and SpoonStrike also claimed JD Wetherspoon had told staff they would only be paid for hours worked up until Sunday 22 March and would also not receive bonuses that had already been awarded.
Martin said in the video sent to staff there was “no money coming in through the tills, which is not something we ever planned for as you can appreciate.”
“Our main aim is to re-open,” he said in the video. “It’s very important to the country that we reopen. It might be weeks, it might be months.”
Martin refused to rule out job cuts when questioned by journalists last week.
Last week, the outspoken pub boss said it was a “tactical error” for the UK government to tell the public to avoid pubs and restaurants and said: “If pubs remain open on a sensible basis, then that’s a plus.”
We have been delighted over recent days to publish news relating to empathy and kindness being shown by many hospitality businesses, two examples are highlighted immediately below…
We are more than disappointed to be publishing this news on Weatherspoons. We hope to see a move today from Tim Martin to remedy the dilemma he has placed 40,000 workers in.