… from @AliciaGTurrell
I’d like to respond here via my blog, as Twitter is limited in words and I want to avoid tweeting even more than I already do. I have included Hazards Campaign and Ian Hodson in this as they are campaigning for health and safety at work, for better work conditions and people’s lives in general, as well as having been a great support where others have failed me. Please pardon the length of my response, I try to cover all the bases, and writing helps me to cope in an extreme nightmare.
… is totally valid and I would usually not cross pollinate concerns that I have with other matters that people raise. I totally understand and I agree with your plea / request, except if it wasn’t for knowing Pret from the bottom up and from its heart regarding people’s lives, health, safety and dignity!
I have been “campaigning” regarding staff treatment, bullying, negligence of staff health and safety openly since May 2018, but from within Pret since May 2015 when my ordeal in Pret started to become horrific on top of my already traumatic loss.
The “cross pollination” is not so much a cross pollination as it seems because for me it is about the health & safety and the lives of PEOPLE, customers and staff alike.
In January 2017 I was told by an HR People Business Partner, who was the note-taker of a grievance appeal that I raised against another PBP for his involvement in my turmoil, that an assistant manager in bereavement was also mistreated at work on top of this. Apart from this being extremely unprofessional and plain stupid for this PBP to even give me this information and with it confirming that staff, no matter what position they’re in, are being mistreated even during bereavement. He confirmed that I was not the only one this happened to. He tried to compare me with her and said that she was “bitter” as she was raising grievances like I did.
I was speechless at this but later at home emailed him to say that she is not bitter but in a lot of pain, as I knew exactly what she must be going through. I regret not having tried to connect with her to support her as I was myself still very lost in my grief and pain. A few months later I learned that an assistant manager died by suicide and this time learned of her name, branch and other details. With Pret I do not believe in coincidences anymore and I have almost ended my life as well having been very close on the edge after what I’ve been through with Pret!
This is about people, no matter on which side of the counter they are standing. Yes, of course customers are always treated better than staff, not because customers “are” better, but because their pockets is what any business is after. But to have neglected and plainly ignored repeated warnings and complaints from customers on the labelling issue, with one also almost fatal, this is a deep-rooted problem in Pret and won’t just improve over night.
The negligence of Pret A Manger concerning people’s lives and health is neither an accident nor isolated incidences, and sadly I am not surprised at Clive Schlee’s repeated self-assured and patronizing response to customers as well as staff. Him “labelling” me his late night girl after my traumatic emailing, making fun, discriminating and minimizing my becoming so unwell, while he refuses to label food products to safe lives, acts to be an open reminder to take responsibility. And then to fire me three days after Christmas 2017 while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma is their way of claiming to be “doing the right thing naturally“.
I know Pret for 10 years with my last 3 years extremely traumatizing. Pret’s “approach” is to blame downwards, that also shows when the labelling was changed to send customers to shop staff to ask about allergen advise. This is a typical lazy approach to blame the shop staff should something go wrong. The amount of rules and micromanaging tasks staff have to sign to be made responsible is just Pret’s way to divert responsibility.
Pret was very very fast in response to Brexit. Within the week of the Brexit vote “Brexit Champions” were placed in each area to help employees stay in the UK and with it not lose staff. Pret reacted very quickly after repeatedly ignoring requests to tackle pest problems in shops, only when an EHO after a routine check closed down a shop due to pest issues did Pret react and commissioned a proper pest control company to solve this problem. Now with Natasha’s death having become public… only a reaction while having ignored repeated warnings before AND after Natasha’s death.
Yes, you may ask why I didn’t leave, I tried. I had interviews, even a trial day while in my darkest time and grief. I couldn’t sell myself and was very down emotionally and mentally. And maybe I overdid it in the trial day trying to “prove” that I’d be a great asset to the company. But when the floor underneath you is ripped away with personal tragedy and then added with the turmoil at work, Natasha’s dad in an interview described the emotional turmoil as feeling like a zombie! I can completely relate to this in terms of grief, especially traumatic grief. And I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmares he has at nights seeing his daughter die in front of him.
You may also ask why I didn’t go to court against Pret, my answer to this repeated question is here.
And also, the trend today is that people accept this as just the norm. People, employees are being treated like this everywhere, there’s nothing that can be done. I had a Facebook message like this again just two days ago. Friends speak like this, even in a grievance hearing the hearing manager said that mistreatment is happening everywhere. And people settle for this. No, I don’t! I do not settle for this! I do not accept this as the norm, and to quote Ian Hodson from the BFAWUnion on different speeches he made, that “It is no longer acceptable that workers are oppressed, paid low wages having to rely on benefits, being exploited, mistreated, disrespected… etc.” It is no longer acceptable! Full stop!
Staff becoming suicidal, mentally ill with depression and other mental conditions, customers (as well as staff!) having life-threatening allergy reactions, and ultimately Natasha’s death is a direct “result” of this carelessness and acceptance on what big companies get away with. Pret allows me to tweet on their feed because they are waiting for me to say something they can use against me. That’s fine with me @Pret. Bring it on!
This is about LIFE without discrimination, without distinction of customers vs. staff. This is about PEOPLE’S LIVES.
Having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life, but now I am deeply ashamed to have any affiliation to Pret and unfortunately cannot erase 10 years of my life that I have wasted. I have become suicidal and was close to the edge which gives me shivers thinking about how close I was. But my suicidal days are over and no matter how much I still suffer, I will not be silent.
Natasha’s death is not an unfortunate incidence that just happened, and like raani1810 has the audacity to suggest that “Maybe it was her time”! It is not for anyone to speculate who’s time it is! Apart from that, it was a tragedy in the making after repeated warnings! I wouldn’t go as far to say it was “murder”, even though in my devastation I have called it like this at times, but it surely has a “manslaughter” quality to it!
Customers’ lives and health, staff’s lives and health, people’s lives and health is what I am standing up for. And be it to support your cause on the allergen issues, I am behind you as well. But because of the lives and health of people, this isn’t as much a “cross pollination” to me as the core problem with Pret A Manger is the lack of true care behind the PR(et) machine. I know I keep repeating myself because this will not change any time soon. Clive Schlee’s “promise” as he calls it to label products now comes only after Natasha’s death has become public. He even procrastinated to contact Natasha’s family for two years!! This is NOT an unfortunate “accident”.
I respect your request but I cannot and will not be silent anymore regarding people’s lives and safety, regardless if they are customers or staff, the core problem in Pret is neglecting people’s lives.
I understand my writings are a “handful”, but I do NOT apologize anymore for speaking out nor sharing my personal experience. I have passed on the written evidence that I have on my ordeal with Pret. I do not trust Pret one ounce after what they’ve put me through!
Thank you for reading.
Update: These kind of responses make me even more determined to never be silent about people’s suffering mentally and physically, be it customers or staff alike. Everybody has their “area” of campaigning, for Alicia it is the allergen issue which I will always support, but as usual the mistreatment of staff, the rampant bullying behaviour of huge companies is of little concern to the public.
I accept and respect people not wanting to know what is happening behind the scenes, but keep on speaking out. And this kind of reaction often comes because I am already “volunteering” the thought that my post may be too long, people then tend to like to jump on that bandwagon to get themselves away from being spectators to injustices, while the statistics of my writings speak another story that people want to know what is going on. I could be dead right now after having had a close call, and also for others in a similar situation who cannot speak anymore, I speak out.
And I do understand that people want to protect themselves, as this is public and even while they might still read my response, publicly distance themselves. That’s fine, everybody is at the level of courage or their own campaign where they feel safe. The same is with most managers in Pret who understood my standing up within Pret but have their jobs to protect.