A millionaire fast food boss sacked all his workers at a store in Great Yarmouth just as the lockdown began—ignoring their pleas to keep them on furlough.
Workers at a Taco Bell in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk were made redundant at the end of March, just as lockdown began. They were told bosses at franchise holder The Adil Group couldn’t afford to keep them on despite multimillion pound turnovers.
Now, without pay or immediate entitlement to benefits, many of them are struggling to get by in the crisis.
Izzy, one of the 14 workers made redundant, told Socialist Worker, “When we closed the shop on 23 March we were told it was due to the coronavirus. We believed we would be furloughed. I got a text from a senior manager telling us not to look for other work or we wouldn’t be entitled to payments under furlough.
“A week later we got an email saying we’d been made redundant.”
Izzy added that her £600 redundancy payment meant she wasn’t entitled to Universal Credit during the whole of April. But, she added, “I’m lucky because I live with my parents.
“Because it’s seasonal work where we are, it’s impossible to get a job anyway. Now with the coronavirus it’s even harder.
“There are people with children who’ve been made redundant. One person might have to drop out of college, and the general manager could end up homeless.
Izzy said the sudden sacking was all the more angering as she and others had helped to expand the franchise, helping to open new branches in other parts of the country.
“The staff have all worked hard. I went to open Taco Bell in Northampton, worked 16 or 17 hour days and came back with bronchitis. I’ve had cold sores, and burned lips from standing too close to the grill.
“Now we’re getting no support.”
Adil Group owner Raja Adil was exposed in Socialist Worker in 2016 for employing workers in KFC outlets on zero hours contracts—against claims by KFC not to use them.
Now he has thrown another group of workers on the scrapheap. The email sent to Izzy said the decision to sack the workers was made “with great sadness and a heavy heart”.
It also said, “Our number one priority at this difficult time is the safety and well-being of our employees.”
Yet Izzy’s pleas for workers to be kept on furlough during the outbreak—where the government subsidises 80 percent of workers’ wages—have been met with silence.
Shockingly, Adil has posted on the LinkedIn social network site praising the furlough scheme.
“I see this happening across the board with business owners leading from the front to do all they can to keep their businesses afloat and supporting their teams,” he wrote.
Izzy said, “Raja Adil has the ability to support us,” she said. “I’ve sent emails to Taco Bell and Adil Group manager Grant Roderickson, but I’ve just been ignored.
“I want to get the message out to people—don’t go out of your way to help a CEO who won’t help you.”