Staff at the sandwich chain Pret a Manger are considering strike action after it was announced that temporary cuts to their pay will be made permanent.
Workers at the chain were told last July that they would not be paid for breaks and a service bonus would be ditched after the pandemic hit.
The service bonus, linked to performance judged by a mystery shopper, was cut from £1 to £0.50, while break pay was cut altogether.
Now, despite a return of workers to offices, Pret have announced that those changes will be made permanent.
Pret say that transactions in London’s City and Canary Wharf areas have changed little over the past two months, despite the reopening of the economy by the government.
The majority of workers earn the basic pay of the legal minimum £8.91 an hour.
The Guardian have reported that the combined changes for a worker working an eight-hour shift, with the legally required half-hour break built in, will amount to an 11 per cent cut on pre-pandemic pay.
Only last week Pret were named as one of 191 firms by the government as consistently failing to pay the minimum wage between 2011 and 2018.
A spokesman for Pret said: “Like others in the hospitality industry, the pandemic had a big impact on our business, so last year we adjusted our business model. This included a review of all contracts and benefits, after which some changes were made.
The business is still trading significantly below pre-pandemic levels, but we continue to review our benefits. This is in no way a reflection of the hard work of our teams, and we’re incredibly grateful for their dedication and commitment.”
Sales at cafes in the City of London and Canary Wharf have plateaued after crossing a major threshold in May, when transactions rose to more than half of pre-Covid levels, Pret says.
Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, said: “We call on Pret to think again.
We can no longer sit back and allow these companies to boost their profits from workers wages. It’s awful to read that workers are facing even worse conditions as we try and get the economy back on track.”
“After the pandemic we are seeing a return to bad business as usual and working people cannot and should not accept that any more,” Hodson said.