Emergency in London
This blog post is designed to work as a ‘heads up’ for certain vegan businesses in London.
If you treat your workers badly, we the vegan community are ready to let you know it’s not OK and you need to change. Now.
As a blogger with a platform for raising concerns within the vegan community, I am often approached by workers and concerned customers who have firsthand experience of restaurants and restaurant owners doing the wrong thing.
Reactionary and strong headed me wants to fly off the handle when I hear these reports. I want to blog about the places, name the guilty restaurants and make them publicly accountable for their bad behaviour and disrespectful treatment of the people making them money.
But I feel I need to be careful and below I have listed some of my concerns:
- I am aware of the reach this blog has and how negative publicity generated here could put a vegan restaurant out of business very quickly.
- I think I should afford restaurant owners the right of reply to claims of bad treatment before they are called out on my blog.
- I fear acts of intimidation or payback to individual workers at the hands of management if it is clear who has spoken up or reached out to me for help.
- I worry if a business closes because the community withdraws patronage, many workers will be without income or job security.
- Finally, I don’t have a lot of money and I’m a tiny bit terrified of UK libel laws. I’m not saying it would stop me, but it makes me think carefully.
With these reasons out of the way, you can now see why I am not currently prepared or able to individually name restaurants.
However, I don’t feel I have the option to sit here eating sugar out of a sack while ignoring the situation. I care about vegan restaurants and the people who work in them. I need to do something with the info being sent my way.
Here is my warning. Yep, warning. This is not to be taken lightly.
If you are a vegan restaurant that mistreats your workers and I hear about it, I’m going to start investigating. I’m going to approach you and ask you for a statement. I’m going to ask why people are saying you mistreat workers and I’m going to report your reply next to their claims right here on my blog.
If for any reason you can’t imagine what sort of behaviour I might be referring to when I use the word ‘mistreat’, let me highlight some real reports that have been sent through to me by London vegan restaurant workers:
- a restaurant owner using sexualised language to harass women workers while aggressively verbally abusing all workers.
- a restaurant manager leaving untrained workers in kitchen to operate equipment such as fryer.
- a restaurant manager drinking on the job and verbally abusing workers.
- a restaurant placing workers in law-breaking situations due to extremely poor health and safety practices.
- a restaurant manager and owner not paying wages on time or at all in some cases.
- a restaurant owner verbally ridiculing workers in front of colleagues and customers.
The above are real complaints sent to me by real workers in real vegan restaurants around London. Not just one place.
I am not closing the comments on this blog post but please understand that I must delete any comments in which individual businesses or people are named. This is for legal reasons.
If you would like to share your personal experience of mistreatment in the restaurant you work in or one where you have worked previously, please contact me privately.
What am I going to do next?
I am starting to compile a list of complaints and concerns. Once I have multiple concerns for an individual restaurant, I will approach the management and ask them to talk to me about them. I will explain that I am considering writing a blog post in support of the workers. The restaurant will be invited to give their comment, whether that be a denial or an admission of wrongdoing with a commitment to address concerns.
My intention here is not to ruin vegan business, but to stand in solidarity with workers.
We need every single vegan restaurant we have in London and a lot more, but restaurant workers are low paid and over-worked and they deserve some basic rules of engagement to be adhered to. They need to be treated with respect and they need to be paid. They don’t need to go to work in fear of sexual harassment or verbal ridicule. They don’t deserve to be put in illegal or dangerous situations. They should be getting paid on time, every time.
Please pass this blog post on to anyone you feel should read it, be they restaurant management or restaurant worker.
Our community doesn’t just care about non-human animals. We care about people, too. These restaurants do not deserve to get away with mistreating workers under the vegan banner.
We don’t want to see these restaurants go out of business. We want to see management understand they can’t get away with this shit and they need to make changes now.
Time for action!