A day in the life… Young, low-paid, bullied and angry

Hannah Parker

If I’m opening the pub, I start at 9am. A managerial staff member should arrive at 8am to let us in but usually me and another kitchen worker wait for ten minutes.

So, management is over an hour late. We moan and I get the latest news of run-ins with them from the kitchen’s point of view. We get little chance to talk during the day.

I open the pub. Despite having over an hour’s worth of work and only 50 minutes to do it in, I am left alone downstairs. This is all the staff we’ll have until 3 or 4 o’clock.

Taking risks

I have had one customer grab my bum, one grab my arm and scream in my face, both these customers were made to leave.

But customers who whistle at me to serve them, are rude or shout are not asked to leave. The old manager wanted to make more money and would never refuse someone a drink.

I signed a risk assessment that says a person cannot be left alone in the pub during the day but managers often do leave, so I may serve around 30 people drinks and food on my own.

Last week the pub was especially busy so we did our evening jobs after closing. Management said we shouldn’t be paid for extra because we “should have made time earlier”.

Next day, a management sign said we had worked appallingly the night before. In future if evening jobs were not completed, we would have to stay until they were finished without pay.

We have two full-time kitchen staff and one part-time. When management refused to cover their breaks and workers couldn’t get a break until their shift was nearly over, they refused to come in for three days and we had to close the kitchen.

But these are non-unionised workers on short-term, zero hour contracts and most staff haven’t worked for the company a year.

They feel isolated and felt forced to take action independently. After that one member went to Citizen’s Advice (CAB) for advice. A manager later told me if he went to the CAB again, she would fire him.

One kitchen worker quit, then tried to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. The duty manager filled out the form for the jobcentre and gloated he would not get Jobseeker’s.

He quit because she made his and our jobs unbearable. He has a family who depended on his income. When I said it was sad as his family would struggle she laughed.


By 2pm, I still haven’t had a break. The 3 o’clock staff arrive. I apologise that I haven’t had time to wash up, but they understand. We have all been through it.

In my five months in the job, I’ve seen eight staff members come and go. But the newest member of staff (brother of the acting manager) just received a pay rise above all the rest.

Two staff members then handed in their resignations. They have both been working for the company over a year.

Nobody denies he deserved a pay rise, we all do and we all support one another. But this is obviously nepotism from a bullying manager.

Management keep putting people on shifts less than eleven hours apart, which is illegal. When staff ask for this to be changed, the manager often replies that she has to work shifts less than eleven hours apart.

But seeing as she writes the rota herself it’s a bit different to us having to do it when we don’t get a say!

It’s class war 2013 style and we need to fight back. If you are working in a low-paid poorly organised job in London, contact [email protected]