Wetherspoons boss pushing to recruit EU workers is a 'national scandal,' says union

2 June 2021, 14:02 | Updated: 2 June 2021, 14:18

By Fiona Jones

The J D Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin is calling for more EU migration to help tackle the shortage of bar staff working in the UK.

The multimillionaire, who campaigned for a hard Brexit, urged Boris Johnson to introduce a "reasonably liberal immigration system" controlled by Britain rather than the European Union.

He recommended the prime minister adopt a visa scheme for workers from the bloc to help the country's pubs and restaurants hire more staff as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Turnbull from workers' union Unite branded Mr Martin's change of stance a "national scandal" as around 188,000 jobs need filling and many British based hospitality workers are jobless.

"This industry made 270,000 skilled and experienced workers redundant throughout the entire period when furlough was available, simply because they didn't want to pay National Insurance or pension contributions for those workers.

"This is a crisis of the industry's own creation and it is a national scandal that they should be now saying we want to recruit workers from the EU."

Mr Turnbull had these direct words for the Wetherspoons boss: "There are workers waiting ready to come back if only you will treat them properly and pay them a decent wage, and give them a fair deal.

"Pay your staff properly and people will come to work for you. There are plenty of people who have got experience of working behind a bar, of cooking in a kitchen, who've now decided that working in a supermarket or doing home deliveries is a much better option to being worked round the clock for minimum wage in a pub or restaurant.

"Wake up, hear the message, treat people properly."

He predicted the industry is going to find it "impossible" to fill the gaping vacancies "even with the end of the furlough scheme."

He said, "A lot of people from the EU went home during the crisis and when they're being asked to come back to work, they're saying no thank you, you didn't treat me properly while I was here, why should I come back now?"

Tim Martin has since stated that these claims he has made were taken out of context and that his pubs have not been hit with staff shortages.