JD Wetherspoon staff have been told to "go work in Tesco" by the pub group's founder, Tim Martin, as the group warned its staff that they could face pay delays.
Wetherspoon has shut all of its pubs until further notice due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In a video to staff, Martin suggested that Wetherspoon employees could seek out work in supermarkets while the pubs are closed. He said that Wetherspoon will pay staff for their work as far as the pubs' closures, but that it will not make any further payments to staff until the UK government fulfils its promise to cover 80% of the wages of workers impacted by the virus.
Rte.ie quotes Martin as saying, "I'm 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 cafés, 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."
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) president Ian Hodson criticised Martin, saying, "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 todaym he'll let the workers who have made him rich suffer. It is completely unacceptable."
Wetherspoon staff members have also criticised Martin and the company.
Wetherspoon Spokesperson Statement
Meanwhile, Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon stated, "Wetherspoon sent a video by the chairman Tim Martin, a letter from chief executive John Hutson and other information to all employees.
"In those communications, it 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."
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