The blog has received an email from a Lush employee. I’m going to post it here unedited.
“I truly can’t believe what has happened now!
Lush have organised a November managers meeting. More about that in a bit. The first time they did this November meeting was in 2011 when all managers had to go down to Poole just for one night to receive some important information about the way that head office structure was changing – like when the helping hands department was set up and who was running which department.
This was really inconvenient for managers to just down tools and go down to Poole, at short notice, as they were just getting into the swing of Christmas, just getting their teams used to taking more money, organising and training temps, making their shops look Christmassy, putting into play all the things they learned at the 3 day long Christmas managers meeting held in a 5* hotel just 2 months before etc. But of course everyone went and did what they were told realizing that it must be a really crucial meeting in order for them to be ‘summoned’. The trainees were left in charge and off the managers went to their important meeting.
It wasn’t! It was a glorified piss up in another 5* hotel, another Christmas meal and the vital information was handed to us in the form of a pink and a blue laminated sheet of paper with some phone numbers on which could have been posted – or emailed even!
Most managers just enjoyed the party and drank lots at Lush’s expense. A few managers felt guilty that their trainees were left holding the baby while they partied away – especially as no staff holiday is allowed in November and December at Lush due to Christmas being so crucial to the business. It is stated in the Contract of Employment. (hold that thought)
Last year, due to everyone having such a lovely time in 2011, they did it again. Again the majority of managers enjoyed their ‘meeting’ and a good time was had by all but a few who just wanted to concentrate on Christmas and being a good manager and making money, not that that does you any favours with Lush.
We have just got this email:
Hello all Managers,
It’s the season to have fun and be jolly and this year we would like you to join us in the captivating city of Amsterdam for Marks Special Party!!
You will be flying out on Sunday 17th November to experience this charming and charismatic city which starts its Christmas Season on that very day when Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) arrives by boat into the city to begin the festive period. Many people take to the streets to celebrate and we would LOVE you to be one of them! Providing the current agenda doesn’t change, the day is yours to do as you wish until the evening. We take great pleasure in attaching your party invite and details about what we have planned for your evenings entertainment!
Amsterdam will be full of enthusiasm and excitedly busy which is why we want to fly you out early on Sunday to be involved in this festively unique event. Please consider how you will get to your chosen airport in the early hours of Sunday.
We have attached your booking form that we would ask you kindly to fill in and return no later than Sunday 27th October. We are also giving you the option to stay extra days and take in the wonders of Amsterdam. We are more than happy to organise your flights for this, however the cost of the room will have to be paid by yourself. We have managed to get some great rates with the hotel. Please email xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx if you are interested.
(Please note that the Sunday is a work day and you can claim this back as a lieu day)
We hope you are all as excited as we are and will be able to join us for this fantastic celebration with our European neighbours. Its going to be one hell of a party!!! Look out Amsterdam… Here we come!
Flying? (105 managers and god knows how many head office staff and hangers on)
Extra days (when no holiday is allowed)
Here’s the itinerary of what crucial business learning will be taking place:
We are super excited to take ONE LUSH into the festive season and where better to do this than the magical city of Amsterdam!You will be staying in the Five Star Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel on the world famous Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might just catch a glimpse of Sinterklaas as he makes his way through the city.
Your 1920’s outfit is essential as we dine and dance the night away with our exciting Great Gatsby themed night.Let’s get the festive period off to a great start and celebrate this Christmas season with good friends and good cheer!
There is various information about what to wear and what hairstyles to have – all compulsory so staff will have to get all their costumes etc. in their hand luggage.
We really appreciate all the effort you will be making and to reward you on the night we will be giving prizes away for:
- Best LADIES HairStyle
- Best GENTLEMANS HAIRSTYLE
- Best LADIES Headdress
- BEST GENTLEMANS MOUSTACHE STYLING
- BEST DRESSED MALE
- BEST DRESSED FEMALE
- Best Charleston dancing
So boys and girls…
Come as a flapper or come as you are,
Come as a gangster or a silent movie star,
Its going to be fun no matter how you dress
Just bring yourself, LUSH will do the rest!
The reaction on the staff facebook page is mixed.
“Just a little bit excited for the Novembers Managers Meeting……Amstadam”
“How very exciting – a well deserved treat” (yes, it’s only been 2 months since the last 5* Christmas managers meeting, another piss up and Christmas meal.
Most were concerned with passport issues, especially if they didn’t have one:
“What if you’ve not got a current Passport?”
”I reckon there’ll be a few of us without a passport, and like xxxx says, even if you get fast track or premium you could wait up to 3 weeks for an appointment to order the passport. Really hope they can extend the booking form. Be a shame to miss out.”
“Amsterdam is completely out of the question for me. I don’t have a passport and nor can I afford the £75 to get one. Living in xxxxxx, there’s no fast track office nearby either. Not only that, but personal reasons too; A 5* hotel in Amsterdam during this whole Christmas festival sounds absolutely fantastic, really really amazing and I want to go so badly, but I just cant. Honestly, this is supposed to be a motivating meeting but I feel really flat because I know that I’m missing out now. But in all, I really hope that the managers who can make it have a good time!
“i do think if it’s a mandatory meeting outside of the UK, it would only be fair if Lush paid for Passports for managers who don’t already have one. Who can afford £100 odd for fast track when we cant even heat our homes properly without being on debt?!”
During the discussion about passports and flying, just one member of staff questioned the ethics of an Amsterdam party by showing this link:
To which the reply was: ”You need a passport whichever form of transport you take, I managed to get a passport in one day from the london passport office. Obviously that was just a replacement so completely new applications will prob take longer. Hope everybody gets I sorted!
This person B completely missed the point so it was re-stated by the person who posted the link (Person A):
“Sorry, my point was that are we not supposed to be limiting air travel where possible? I don’t see this event as being business critical especially in these financially difficult times.”
Person B replied: ”Oh right. Yeah I can see what you mean but rallying the troops and motivating is highly important too. You could say they same of the store Xmas parties. I know they do not cost the same as this but collectively that’s a lot of money that we spend and that’s just a lovely way for us to thank our teams and celebrate how amazing we are, i guess what i mean by that is in both cases christmas will still happen next year without it but its still an amazing thing for lush to provide us. Obviously, we’ve never gone to Amsterdam but this November meeting has happened for a few years now, so Whoever makes the decision on these meetings does see it as business critical or at least business effective else it wouldn’t get done xx”
(Parties are clearly business critical now)!
(Person A): ”I’m happy that you get motivation from attending such meetings, I really am, but where is the motivation for everyone else? What motivation do I get when myself and the rest of xxxx had our bonus scheme removed 4 months ago and have not received a penny for project based bonuses that were previously agreed. The November meeting could quite easily be held in the UK, putting the managers up in a 5 star hotel is just a smack in the face to those of us who are struggling to make ends meet. I am aware that others are in similar situations but that does not excuse the fact that this event could just as easily take place in the UK and at a lower cost. How about investing in your staff, so everyone is recognised and has some standard of living, people keep falling for these quick fixes of fun rather than stable good salaries and achievable bonuses. ”
Someone else jumped in with: “European managers coming to the U.K. Vs uk managers going to Europe. I’d imagine the cost is similar? Either way I’m excited” (there are far less euro managers and no need for head office staff to fly out to Amsterdam if it was held in the UK, so it would cost less and be better for the environment with far less flights.
(Person A): Ok, I didn’t realise that this was a European managers meeting as well, so that means even more expense. I would be interested to see the budget for this event, it’s probably as ludicrous as the Lushfest events! I hope you all enjoy getting drunk at the expense of other peoples bonuses.”
And some further comments: “Well, well, well this explains why the front line staff eg shop floor didn’t get a Xmas box !!!!! Thanks for being so kind to the people that actually make the money for this company feeling really motivated for crimbo now NOT !!!!”
”Guys, I think we should all calm down and put things into perspective… it isn’t like they are being flown out of the country for a boozy trip 5 weeks before the biggest and most important time of the year for the company that single handedly keeps it afloat…. oh… wait…”
“We’ll have fun in Amsterdam everyone while the lowly shop floor staff sell their butts off to make sure managers get all the treats, feeling very let down”
Sadly these staff will probably get the sack now for speaking out of turn and not being pleased for their managers or pro Lush.
This Amsterdam trip will clearly motivate everyone and will help bring the staff and management together as one big happy family. Just shows Lush’s lack of any business sense whatsoever. But I’m sure a good time will be had by all. One Lush! “
As far as I’m concerned, Lush can spend their money how they want. But I am appalled (yet not surprised, unsurprisingly) that they are flying their staff around Europe for a party. Remember, Lush are very vocal about their commitment to the environment and they support Plane Stupid, as discussed in this Guardian article from 2008. But they’re paying to fly their staff around for a night on the ran-dan that could easily have taken place in the UK. What utter hypocrites.
If any of the staff who have commented negatively on the facebook page are reading this, I urge you to join an appropriate union straight away. Protect yourselves. If Lush start to make life difficult for you because you’ve criticised their stupidity, you might need union help. Those of you who fear management action because you’re unable to attend (because you can’t afford to, or for any other reason), join a union, protect yourselves. And all those of you who are on minimum wage and have had your Christmas bonuses removed – it’s time for every single one of you to join an appropriate union, get organised, and start fighting for better terms and conditions.