Calls for Wetherspoon boycott as boss tells staff members to 'work at Tesco' amid pub closures

24 March 2020, 15:44

Wetherspoons employs more than 40,000 people in the UK
Wetherspoons employs more than 40,000 people in the UK. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

People are calling for a boycott of pub giant Wetherspoon after Boss Tim martin released a video message to staff telling them to "go work at Tesco" as he warned their pay will likely be delayed until April.

The pub chain, which has 40, 000 employees, shut its doors on Friday after Boris Johnson demanded all sites to shut until further notice to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

In a video message to staff, Mr Martin explained that his company would be relying on a government grant to pay workers until the government delivers on its promise to pay 80 per cent of worker's wages.

However, he said this is likely to not come through until April, leaving thousands of staff members struggling to pay rent and bills.

Instead, the millionaire businessman told workers to "go to Tesco", which is currently struggling with online delivery demand.

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In the video, the founder said: “I’ve very sorry about the situation that’s occurred with our pubs.

“I know that almost all our trade now has gone to supermarkets.

“Not only our trade, but the trade from cafes, leisure centres and restaurants.

“So we have had lots of calls from supermarkets, Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them.

He continued: “That’s half the number of people who work in our pubs.

“If I’m 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 will give you first preference if you want to come back.

"I completely understand if you don't want to wait around for us to reopen but deeply appreciate your work.

 "I've so much enjoyed talking to you in my pub crawls over the weeks and best of luck."

In a statement, Ian Hodson, president of the BFAWU, said: “He is ignoring the advice of the Government to stand by your workers and instead abandoning them in their time of need.

“They need to pay rent, buy food and because of the low wages he’s always paid them will not have savings to depend upon.

“His selfish approach says unless the Government puts money into my bank account today he’ll let the workers who have made him rich suffer.

“It is completely unacceptable.”

The decision has also been met with outrage on social media.

One former employee wrote: "Genuinely disgusted to have worked for such a self-centred, careless and disgraceful company, my heart goes out to so many of my colleagues directly facing the impact of selfish employers, justice WILL take its course."

A Twitter user said: "Owner of #weatherspoon, #TimMartin, has no shame. When #COVIDー19 is over let's massively boycott. Solidarity to all workers affected by #TimMartin's disgusting practices."

"This is beyond despicable - do the right thing #TimMartin and pay your employees," said a third.

Another Tweet read: :When this blows over, there should be a serious boycott of #JDWetherspoon. Hopefully all their workers will get employed elsewhere.

It comes on the same day that retail giant Sports Direct had to back down from keeping all stores open following pressure from the government.

Initially, owner Mike Ashley said that its high street shops would continue to sell sports and fitness equipment in the face of coronavirus. However, he soon U-Turned on the decision.

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