J D Wetherspoon

A war of words has broken out over JD Wetherspoon’s treatment of employees who are currently not working in the company’s many pub and bars.

In a video to his 40,000 workers, the group’s boss, Tim Martin, suggested they should apply for jobs at supermarkets, where there are current vacancies to cope with demand.

The workers have been told they won’t be paid after Friday (27th March) until Wetherspoon has been reimbursed by the government

This prompted individuals, such as Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Commons Business Select Committee, and Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union, to label Martin’s stance unacceptable.

Ian said: “Tim Martin’s actions are shocking. 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.

“This country will not forget the way in which employers have treated their staff during this crisis. Now is the time for all workers to come together and oppose greedy inaction by millionaire bosses.”

‘Wetherspoon is retaining all its employees, using the government scheme for the purpose for which it is intended’

In a statement reported by hospitality website Propel, Wetherspoon’s spokesman, Eddie Gershon, said: “There has been a complete misinterpretation of what Wetherspoon said in a number of press reports this morning.

“Wetherspoon sent a video by chairman, Tim Martin, a letter from chief executive, John Hutson, and other information to all employees. In those communications it made clear all employees would get paid this Friday for all work carried out until the pubs shut. After that, the company would utilise the government ‘furlough’ scheme, which pays 80% of wages, details of which are in the course of being finalised between licensed trade representatives and the government at the present time.

“As we understand it, tens of thousands of hospitality workers and others have already lost their jobs, but Wetherspoon is retaining all its employees, using the government scheme for the purpose for which it is intended. Wetherspoon chairman, Tim Martin, said to employees in a video that supermarkets were urgently looking for staff, since all trade from pubs, restaurants and cafés had transferred to supermarkets in the last few days. Wetherspoon has had urgent calls from supermarkets asking for help in recruitment. Tesco alone urgently needs 20,000 staff, we understand.

“Tim Martin said in the video that staff who wanted to work for Tesco should do so and would be given first priority when Wetherspoon pubs reopened. Wetherspoon believes the actions it has taken are responsible and sensible in the difficult circumstances.”

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