By Melissa Kasule
An owner of Pizza Hut store has allegedly failed to pay almost 40 members staff and left them without furlough for up to two months during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is claimed that Simon Byrne, franchise owner of the Croydon, Norbury, South Croydon and Carshalton Pizza Hut stores has failed to pay some staff but also did not put them on furlough.
Pizza Hut has apologised to its staff and said it has been in contact with all those affected.
Workers had created a Facebook page called “ATEAM franchise (Pizza Hut) pay what you owe”, hosted by Croydon Solidarity Network.
A staff member said: “We have not been furloughed or sick paid, and during this pandemic, we are becoming desperate. He has now resulted to barricading himself in the shop and calling the police on any worker who comes to talk about their wages. He offered to pay us in olives and napkins.”
Chris Alves, a worker at the Northbury branch, told the Morning Star: “I have no money, I have no food, I have no toilet paper. I’m sitting here shaking and crying, having a nervous breakdown. I have credit bills that are just gaining interest. Can you tell me how much longer I have to starve?”
Croydon Solidarity Network added: “Many people have missed rent dates and bill payments, and are accruing many charges for overdrafts and credit cards.
“Financially it will be very difficult to dig out of this situation for these employees. Many workers are now in a desperate situation with the need to pay rent and food.”
A spokeswoman for Pizza Hut said: “We are deeply sorry for what has happened and would like to apologise to any team members affected and reassure them that we are committed to making this right.
“We understand there have been issues relating to team member payment at six franchisee Pizza Huts in and around South-east London.
“Pizza Hut head office is stepping in and we are ensuring everyone will be paid for their hours worked. We have been in touch with team members at these stores via text and, or email, over the past few days with details about payment.
“We realise that not every team member may have seen these communications or been reached. We are asking anyone who worked at the affected branches to get in touch with us directly.
“We are investigating the issue and will manage the franchisee situation appropriately.”
The staff had asked customers to show their support by reaching out to Pizza Hut’s social platforms and Simon Byrne personally.
More staff at Horsham, Tonbridge Wells and Carshalton Pizza Hut stores also claimed a failure of payments by Mr Byrne.
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