Last year, Andrej made a claim to the Employment Tribunal that he was unfairly dismissed for his Trade Union activity contrary to the Section 152 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
The Employment Tribunal Hearing will take place between 11th June – 13th June 2013 on the following address:
London Central Employment Tribunals
The Hearing will start at 9am each day and is open to public. All supporters of PAMSU are very welcome to come to show their support.
These accusations are originating from Assistant Manager Chlebanowski who was regularly instructing staff to use out of date ingredients in food production last year in York Way branch. He was also bullying staff. Witness Statement 1 states in paragraphs 6 and 7:
“In response to Mr Stopa’s concern with food safety standards, Mr Chlebanowski started bullying him. He spoke about Mr Stopa’s personal file openly in front of the team, he was forcing him to work more than six hours without a break and would point out any mistake Mr Stopa did in front of all team to humiliate him. Finally, on 1st December 2011 Mr Chlebanowski raised a grievance against Mr Stopa alleging that Mr Stopa made homophobic comments against him.
I believe that this was a malicious grievance as I witnessed these comments and I don’t find them homophobic in any way which I repeatedly stated during the investigation. I believe that the true reason why Mr Chlebanowski raised this issue was his concerns that Mr Stopa would eventually report his practice of using out of date ingredients in production.”
“On 1st December 2011 and 10th January 2012 Mr Chlebanowski raised two grievances against Mr Stopa. I believe that both of these grievances were malicious as Mr Stopa opposed almost every day Mr Chlebanowski’s practice of using out of date ingredients. Mr Stopa was also aware of his basic worker’s rights which he pointed out to Mr Chlebanowski on a few occasions when he was trying to intimidate him or the other staff members. I believe that Mr Chlebanowski felt uncomfortable that Mr Stopa was working in his shop as he could eventually report any of these incidents. That is why he decided to get Mr Stopa dismissed so he can continue to bully staff members and instruct them to use out of date ingredients.”
In December 2011 and January 2012, Andrej challenged Mr Chlebanowski on the breach of food safety via two text messages. Although, Mr Chlebanowski knew what was the subject of these text messages he claimed that Andrej was threatening him. However, Pret didn’t deal with these accusations for 9 months. After Andrej established PAMSU on 1st September 2012 he was finally called for the disciplinary hearing based on these malicious accusations and consequently dismissed even though he presented the statements from his colleagues to Pret. Clearly, Pret could not stand to have a whisle-blower and a trade union activist among their staff. Although, Pret was presented four statements from their staff that Mr Chlebanowski is instructing them to use out of date ingredients in food production, he was never investigated. Instead, he was recently promoted to the General Manager.
Andrej lodged in a claim to Employment Tribunal last week on the grounds that he was dismissed unfairly.
The Pret a Manger Staff Union believes all Pret workers deserve enough pay and enough guaranteed hours to live on.
Because of this, the Union is demanding Pret pay all its staff the London Living Wage of £8.55 (£7.45 in the rest of the UK).
But we know that Pret won’t listen just because we ask nicely. We need you to get involved: join the union, talk to your workmates about the campaign, and attend the upcoming public actions which will put pressure on Pret to give us the wage and the hours we need.
What else does PAMSU do?
Mentoring of workplace activists
Training on the skills we need to get organised
Supporting each other when raising grievances or fighting disciplinaries
What makes PAMSU different?
PAMSU is an independent union. That means no managers, no politicians, and no bureaucrats. We don’t rely on the law or the goodwill of the company when it comes to fighting for the interests of Pret workers.
Instead, PAMSU believes all Pret workers—whether you’re a barista, team leader, kitchen staff or any other position—should come together to support each other. Only by standing together will we make sure we get the respect we deserve. It’s only through solidarity that we’ll make Pret a better place to work.
Pret a Manger decided to uphold Andrej’s dismissal, however, the fight goes on. The Union has many new members who are devoted to the Living Wage Campaign. PAMSU is not an isolated movement. It is a part of a global revolution that is knocking on the door. From London, Paris, Rome to Berlin, we will fight we will win! Two days ago, hundreds of fast food workers organized a strike for Living Wage in New York City.
This is an inspiration for PAMSU. Thousands of people all around the world are striving for a better pay. Once PAMSU get more members it will organize strikes like this and eventually force Pret to give us a decent pay. Get involved today and join the Union!
Out of 3,386 employees, 307 employees stated that they had British nationality and 89 stated that they were of white ethnic origin which is less than 3% of the workforce. Yet, this 3% controls positions such as general manager, area manager or operations manager, not mentioning Pret human resources which employs exclusively white British employees.
It is clear that Pret a Manger prefers to hire foreign workforce rather than British workforce. PAMSU believes that the reason for this selective recruitment approach is that Pret can much easily exploit foreigners than British people. Foreigners are more vulnerable as English is not their native language and they are not familiar with the legal system in the UK. That makes them perfect employees for companies like Pret.
Occasionally, some of the Pret employees can’t stand the bullying and stand up for their rights. This is what happened in Pret St Pancras branch on 1st September 2012 when 5 employees (surprisingly all foreigners) formed the Pret A Manger Staff Union to fight for their basic rights such as being treated with respect and dignity or having access to their payslips and being paid the wages they deserved.
Andrej’s appeal hearing only lasted 40 minutes. His representative presented evidence proving that Andrej was dismissed unfairly. Part of this evidence are two statements from Andrej’s colleagues claiming that he was sacked based on malicious grievance that was raised by a manager who was instructing staff to break Pret’s food safety standards.
At the end of the hearing, Andrej was asked why he thinks he was sacked. He responded:
“I was victimized for Whistle-blowing and establishing the Pret A Manger Staff Union.”
The outcome of the appeal should be released on 7th December 2012.
Huge thanks to all of you who who helped organize and took part in the two day Communications Blockade.
Since forming Pret a Manger Staff Union earlier this year, Andrej and a number of other workplace activists have faced a campaign of harassment and victimisation from management. For Andrej, this has reached a point where he has been sacked on trumped-up disciplinary charges. His final appeal hearing against the decision will occur on Thursday the 29th of November at 2:00pm.
PAMSU together with the North London Solidarity Federation, the Alliance for Workers Liberty and Radical Islington call for the Communications Blockade on Wednesday 28th November 2012.
In an effort to show solidarity with Andrej and PAMSU, we are asking the supporters:
On Monday 19th November 2012, PAMSU - with support from Solidarity Federation, Bloomsbury Fightback, The Alliance for Workers Liberty, and Industrial Workers of the World – organized a demonstration outside Pret A Manger shops in St Pancras International Station and York Way. The reason why PAMSU decided to protest is victimization of its founding members Andrej and Rodrigo. Big thanks to all supporters who came over on Monday! No pasarán!
Workers at the St. Pancras Station outlet of chain sandwich shop Pret A Manger are facing intimidation and victimisation for organising a trade union in the store.
A group of workers began organising in August 2012, around a series of ongoing grievances including non-payment, late notification of shift changes, bullying by managers, and being given fewer hours than their stated contracts. A petition around these demands was signed by nearly half of all staff working in the store.
Almost straight away, key organisers found themselves victimised. One worker was given a disciplinary hearing for an “unauthorised absence”, even though he had been off sick and phoned the store to inform them. The hearing was deliberately scheduled for after the Olympics so the worker could be kept on during the busy Olympic period. Eventually, the worker was given a final warning and transferred to another store.
The Pret A Manger Staff Union (PAMSU) was formally established on 1st September 2012. Two weeks later, leading organiser Andrej Stopa found himself facing disciplinary charges for events which took place in January 2012. The date of the hearing was moved several times, and finally rearranged at 24-hours notice, meaning Andrej was unable to attend. As a result, he was fired.
Other members of the union also faced systematic intimidation, including one member who was given a full-time contract along with a “strong recommendation” that he leave the union, and who was told that his grievances would be better dealt with if he pursued them “informally”.
Andrej says that although his dismissal intimidated the staff in St Pancras branch, the new Pret employees are joining the union every day from different branches of Pret A Manger.
Andrej has appealed his dismissal. The appeal hearing will take place on 29th November 2012 at 14.00 outside Pret’s Headquarters in Victoria. Feel free to come over to support Andrej! No pasarán!