Workers at coffee shop chain Pret-a-Manger have won a partial victory over attempts to undermine their pay and conditions after threatening to respond with strike action.
Under cover of “below pre-pandemic levels” of trade for the franchise, bosses had moved to suspend paid breaks for staff and also cut a performance linked bonus for staff from £1 an hour to 50p. Since the prospect of strikes was raised by Pret workers, the company has reversed its decision to cut the bonus pay, but have left in place the scrapping of paid breaks. This means a worker on an 8 hour shift will now see an effective pay cut of 6% (compared to 11% before the partial u-turn). The majority of workers at Pret earn the legal minimum wage of £8.91 an hour.
This attack on staff benefits comes as the coffee chain experiments with a subscription based model for selling coffee, which has put workers under extra strain to meet the increased demand.
The approach taken by Pret bosses, to roll back the conditions of their lowest paid employees in order to protect company profits, is not unique in the current period. Aside from direct attacks on workers through practices like ‘fire and rehire’ and cuts to employee benefits, reductions in staffing levels (or in the case of Pret, a new, subscription based, business model) place extra burdens on workers and effectively require each of them to do more work with no increase in remuneration.
It is in this context that Youth Fight for Jobs is campaigning for trade union action to secure a real future for young people in the workplace, who will bear the brunt of these attacks.
Firms who consider making job cuts should be made to open their books to trade union scrutiny, and nationalisation of companies in order to save jobs should be fought for by the trade union movement.
Training and apprenticeship schemes for young people and government investment in socially useful job creation, in order to guarantee the right to a decent job for all without loss of pay is also vital to building a future for young people and for society.
We also demand that monopolies and banks are taken into democratic public ownership in order to provide every young and working class person with a decent, socially useful and well-paying job. This burden should rightly fall on the 1%, who see it as their right to make big profits off of holding down the pay and conditions of workers. Youth Fight for Jobs will be organising a national day of action for October 9th in order to fight for this programme and demonstrate in practice
Collective struggle for the right to a decent job for all
For a mass trade union led fightback against the jobs slaughter, fire and re-hire and all the bosses’ attacks on workers
No to mass youth unemployment – for a mass programme of socially useful and environmentally friendly job creation
End low pay. For trade union struggle for a £12 an hour minimum wage as a step towards a real living wage of £15 an hour. Abolish youth rates.
Scrap zero hour contracts. End job insecurity
No to bogus training schemes. For real training and apprenticeship schemes, under the democratic oversight of the trade unions, with a guaranteed job at the end for all. Abolish apprenticeship rates – for a living wage and grant for all trainees and apprentices.
Wherever job losses are threatened, open company accounts to democratic trade union inspection to show where the money has gone
Trade union rights at work from day one
For a mass programme of council house building and rent controls
Make the 1% pay for the crisis – for democratic public ownership of major industry and the banks to provide us with a future
A major crisis is unravelling in front of young people in Britain today. Our futures – starting with our jobs – are being sacrificed by big business and the pro-capitalist politicians and parties to protect the profits of the super-rich 1%.
The coronavirus pandemic has already been hard for young people. Retail, accommodation and food services are the biggest sectors employing young people and they’ve have seen the biggest job cuts. So young people have suffered the brunt of job losses over the course of the pandemic, with two thirds of all overall redundancies hitting under 25s.
We also face growing job insecurity, an explosion of unaffordable housing, the burden of student debt, many of us face discrimination and the environmental catastrophe threatens our future.
That’s why on Saturday 9th October, Youth Fight for Jobs across the country is organising youth marches for jobs to demand that we are not made to pay for this crisis.
The ending of the furlough scheme in October will mark a new phase of suffering as the bosses, after receiving millions of pounds in furlough money from the Tories, will move to slash our jobs.
Over the course of the pandemic, in Britain the billionaires have increased their overall wealth by a fifth. We say that they should be made to pay for this crisis, not young people and the working class.
But in order to make them pay, we have to build a mass collective movement to fight for what we, the majority, need. The right to a decent job is essential if we’re to have a future. But under capitalism, where profit comes before all else, no such right can be guaranteed – it has to be fought for.
We say the kind of struggle we need is a trade union led struggle. With over 6 million members, organised in workplaces across the country, the trade unions are potentially the most powerful weapons in building a mass collective struggle against the attacks of the bosses and the Tories. The potential for collective action has been proved by the many victories striking workers have chalked up in 2021.
That’s why we campaign for the leaders of our trade unions to throw the full weight of the trade union movement behind the fight against the jobs slaughter, to help organise young workers, and to lead the fightback for decent jobs for all.
But we don’t just need to build a struggle against job cuts, we need to build a mass movement for what young people need for an independent life and decent future.
That’s why Youth Fight for Jobs fights for a mass programme of government investment into socially useful job creation, under the democratic oversight of the trade union movement, funded by taking the wealth from the super-rich 1%, including through nationalisation of industry and the banks.
But capitalism is a system in which the economy and society is organised to maximise the profits of a tiny handful at the top of society, ahead of the social needs and wants of the majority.
That’s why we fight not just for a trade union-led struggle against the jobs slaughter, but for a socialist society based on meeting the needs of all.
Young workers and students are organising Youth Fight for Jobs in preparation for a day of action on 9 October. The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign is needed now more than ever.
The furlough scheme is set to end in September, and scores of young people are set to be cast out into the world of unemployment, at worst, and low-paid precarious jobs, at best.
The government’s plan for youth jobs is shipping young people into minimum wage, part-time, six-month contracts. We must fight for a better future.
Youth Fight for Jobs was founded in 2009 in similar circumstances. The consequences of the 2007-08 financial crash were borne on the shoulders of the working class – especially its young members. Since then, 13 years of austerity have left young workers in poverty and uncertainty.
Degrees and apprenticeships that were meant to bring young people success and security have left them penniless, in debt, or both. At the opposite pole, the 2,365 billionaires in the world increased their wealth to almost $13 trillion – a 54% increase.
Both the government and the Labour Party have shown that they do not care about the working class, and only care about the rich.
Some recent workers’ struggles have been victorious – the Royal London Hospital strike and that of the Thurrock bin workers. But things will get worse if we let the bosses keep pushing against us.
Youth Fight for Jobs will be marching in cities and towns on 9 October for a future for young people, with well-paid secure socially useful jobs that benefit everyone, not just the bank accounts of the bosses.
So join us. From school students to the unemployed to young workers – this is your future. Help us organise the fightback.
Youth Fight for Jobs says the trade unions should fight:
Against all job cuts – Open the finance books and nationalise firms to save jobs
For real training and apprenticeship schemes for young people – For a decent job at the end of training
For the right to a job for all – End low pay, and fight for government investment in socially useful job creation. Share out the work with no loss of pay
To make the 1% pay – Take the monopolies and banks into democratic public ownership to provide every young and working-class person with a future