The full impact of Brexit is only beginning to come to fruition – but it seems one effect could be that a younger and perhaps rather spottier person hands you your coffee croissant in the morning.
High street cafe Pret a Manger announced it is looking for 500 16 to 18-year-old Brits for week-long unpaid work experience positions over the summer.
A mainstay of every street corner in central London, the announcement comes after it was revealed earlier this month that just one in 50 of those who apply to work at Pret are British. It was also revealed working staff at the chain come from 110 different nationalities, with 65% of those from outside the UK being EU citizens.
The threat Brexit could potentially pose to Pret’s workforce would seem pretty significant then – and Pret’s director of human resources Andrea Wareham made this quite clear.
“If I had to fill all our vacancies in British-only applicants I would not be able to fill them… because of a lack of applications,” she told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.
Pret made little secret of the idea it is Brexit which has caused its move to hire young Brits on work experience either. The announcement on its website says it is in response to a question posed on the BBC’s Question Time when Brexit was being discussed, who asked: “Who will serve us our coffee in Pret?”
Many people didn’t go a bundle on the idea of free labour from Britain’s teenagers though…
So Pret a Manger wants to use teenage slave labour to solve its Brexit-induced labour shortage! That really takes the biscuit.
— Ivan White (@ivanwhite48) March 25, 2017
I love that pret a manger plan to tackle a labour shortage by offering to… not pay people. Uh, guys…
— ᴎᴁʙᴅ 🦌 (@naebD) March 25, 2017
In fact more than one or two have compared the idea to war-time conscription.
Imagine: the government brings back national service, but instead of serving in the army you have to work in Pret a Manger
— Laura (@LizzleAlstizzle) March 25, 2017
LATEST: UK to reintroduce National Conscription after Brexit with British teenagers forced to spend up to two years in Pret a Manger.
— Ministry of Brexit (@Brexitannia2017) March 25, 2017
The result of these protests against Pret’s plan? Well, some said they are planning to boycott the chain.
I eat at Pret A Manger daily and like their ethos on the homeless. But using unpaid teen labour rather than pay a Brit a decent wage=boycott
— L M D (@Lewis2012Davis) March 25, 2017
Whether this lot can really resist a prosciutto ham baguette or brownie only time will tell.
How can those who don’t eat at Pret make their point known though? Well Colin here seems to have one answer…
Can't really boycott Pret a Manger 'cos I never buy anything there. Instead, I thought I could walk in, sneeze on a baguette, and walk out.
— Colin Simpleton (@colinthecorpse) March 25, 2017
Everyone has their way of standing up for what they believe in. Well done Colin.
It seems the outrage at Pret’s announcement has worked though – a reporter for the Daily Telegraph has reported Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee told her they will now pay their work experience employees.
Just got a comment from CEO of Pret: They will be paying their interns because of online outrage @AbiWilks
— Helena Horton (@horton_official) March 25, 2017
“Pret’s Work Experience Week is not about making sandwiches for free,” Schlee told the paper. “We’ve seen how passionately people feel about the initiative, and in response I would like to confirm that we will pay all participants Pret’s starting hourly rate and of course provide free food as well.”