Almost 100 MPs have written to JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin calling on him to pay his staff and “serve his country” during the coronavirus crisis.
The letter comes a day after the pub giant denied “abandoning workers in a time of need”, after staff claimed they’d been told not to expect future payments until cash from the chancellor’s wage scheme had been received.
A spokesperson for the pub giant, which employs about 40,000 people, said staff would receive their weekly pay on Friday but could not confirm when they would receive future payments. The group has suggested workers could seek alternative jobs at Tesco supermarkets, saying their return to the company will be made a priority when pubs are able to reopen.
The letter, which called on Martin to guarantee 100% of workers’ wages and pay bonuses that are due to his teams, was signed by 95 MPs.
It read: “You employ 40,000 wonderful workers whose skills, hard work and enthusiasm are cherished by the country. They have also generated record profits for your company.
“However Wetherspoons has fallen short in supporting these workers at a time of crisis. Allowing thousands of people to go penniless for a prolonged period of time is disgraceful. So many rely on their weekly income to survive.”
It added: “We hope Wetherspoons will not be remembered as seeking to squirrel away profits during a global crisis causing the deaths of thousands of people. Instead we hope that you will seek to continue to make Wetherspoons a safe place to work – and serve your country.”
Olivia Blake, Sheffield Hallam MP, who coordinated the letter, and is Vice-Chair of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union Parliamentary group said: "JD Wetherspoon’s decision to let tens of thousands of workers go without money to pay their rent or feed their families is an utter disgrace. At this time of national crisis, everyone, including Tim Martin, needs to come together to put people and not profits first."
A spokesperson yesterday said: “It was made clear that 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.”