Wetherspoons pub boss tells staff to 'go work at Tesco' as UK enters coronavirus lockdown

The boss of pub chain Wetherspoons has told his staff to ‘go work at Tesco’ as the firm warned workers they could face pay delays.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 2:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 2:17 pm

Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin’s company, which employs 40,000 people, shut all its pubs on Friday in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video message to staff, Mr Martin suggested workers could find employment at supermarkets while his pubs remain shut.

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A Wetherspoons pub in Sheffield

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He said his company will pay staff for all work prior the shutdown, but will not make any further payments until the Government fulfils its promise to cover 80 per cent of the wages of workers impacted by the virus.

The founder said: “I've very sorry about the situation that's occurred with our pubs.

“I know that almost all our trade now has gone to supermarkets.

“Not only our trade, but the trade from cafes, leisure centres and restaurants.

“So we have had lots of calls from supermarkets, Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them.

“That's half the number of people who work in our pubs.

“If I'm honest, I say you can get the furlough payments and stay at home.

“If you're offered a job at a supermarket, many of you will want to do that.

“If you think it's a good idea, do it.

“I can completely understand it.

“If you've worked for us before I promise you we will give you first preference if you want to come back.”

Workers criticised Mr Martin's stance, writing a letter backed by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), comparing the group to companies such as Costa, which has promised to pay staff for the next eight weeks.

Ian Hodson, president of the BFAWU, said: “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."