A couple of emails from two ex-employees of everybody’s favourite ethical employer, Lush. The people have asked me to only use excerpts rather than the whole emails, so I’m picking out the worst bits, some of which are a) despicable, b) unlawful and c) cruel. Some of these issues could have been dealt with by a union, or a decent HR department, or a competent, well-trained manager who understands employment law and has a soul.
I worked for Lush for just under 4 years and have just left a big store because quite simply I’d given up caring. After a full year of abuse, bullying, shitty management, cliques and back stabbing and favouritism, I’d had enough. The management are more interested in filling their pockets than the welfare of their staff; having seen over half the staff have breakdowns in front of me (and with that MASSIVE staff turnover) I’m sure you can appreciate, one fellow human to another that watching that amount of suffering and fear was just too much.
Staff members were too afraid to call in sick despite having serious health issues, because they’d lose their jobs. People were fired for less, without following proper procedure (i.e. 3 verbal warnings, 3 written, disciplinarys, etc) and to top it all fired in front of other members of staff and not in private. One of my friends had 3 members of her family die within 6 weeks of each other at home in eastern Europe, she went to the first 2 funerals and got harassed by phonecalls asking why she wasn’t in for her shifts despite being given bereavement leave. When her third family member died she was unable to go home, but a senior member of management told her she was too miserable to be on the shop floor and had to smile more, she wasn’t allowed to be back of house doing quiet jobs as that ”wasn’t what shes paid for”.
I also had a similar experience when my father died. I got phone calls asking where I was, why I wasn’t in and even when I kept hanging up they’d ring back, eventually I stopped answering. Don’t get me wrong, there were two members of management who were amazing, but when I came back to work eventually, I got blamed for so many things going wrong whilst I was away that had nothing to do with me.
In the last 3 months, the management team have grown from about 9/10 to around 36 and still couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. When the shop originally opened up and I transferred, it was promised that rotas would be given 4 weeks in advance. Never happened, a year on they’ve only got as far as 2 weeks and that only happened a YEAR after the store opened, after investing in a huge program to do the rotas FOR YOU and it still, doesn’t happen. Working week at Lush runs from Monday to Sunday, you would receive the next weeks rota on a Thursday (if you were lucky) giving you 3 days notice. You had no social life, no opportunity let alone trying to get into a sleeping pattern. I regularly had to work back to back lates-earlys with less than 5 hours sleep, until I finally stated that if they continued to put me on that rota I would just show up as and when I pleased. It wasn’t even CLOSE to legal – and I’ll just add, that unless you went to the rota team, this did not change, lots of staff are still having to deal with this, they will not make the changes for everyone, just individuals. Not to also mention, the law states you can work a maximum of 6 days in a row then must have at least 24 hours off. Nope, my record was 11 days, I know of a lot of people doing 14/15.
Stock takes are a big issue; they used to run until 10pm but then got changed until 12am finish time. For those unfamiliar with London transport, the tubes do not run through all the night yet, they stop. All over ground trains stop at around 12:30/1am. Buses DO run night services but reduced routes, through dangerous parts of London. I live an hour from my shop (if its a good day and the Tubes behave). Finishing at midnight means I am stranded in London overnight. I can not get to a overground trainline fast enough to catch the last train home and I will not take my life in my hands by taking a bus (which also means my journey time goes up to 2 hours 45 mins). And all members of staff should be rota’d to do every 3rd stocktake – never happens, favouritism strikes again, many MOS find they are rota’d to do 5/6 in a row and then have to fight tooth and nail to get one off. Anyway I’m off on a tangent, staying this late for work qualifies, as I understand it, for Unsociable Hours Pay. Nope. Not a whisper. Not to mention ALL stocktakes are on a Sunday, did I say that before? SO already, the Tubes/Trains/Buses are at a way reduced down service, not to mention works and maintenance. The manager’s answer? ”Get an UBER home” … yeh. I have no words. You already pay us shit money, so lets spend it on a taxi home from London at midnight at top tariff rates.
Paperwork? HA, nope. never got done. I originally signed a 20h contract and after about 8 weeks I asked to increase to 35h, which was agreed. Never signed that contract, never saw a copy of that contract, never got confirmation from payroll and the way overtime works with Lush, if you work over your contract your overtime actually contributes towards earning more holiday. Never saw that either. Still waiting for my pension information which I signed on for when the Workplace Pension started off over 18 months ago.
I had surgery last year and was recommended by my surgeon for 4 weeks off. According to Lush I could have 1 week off with Stat. Sick Pay and another week off if I used my Holiday. That was it. I had 2 out of 4 weeks off, and believe me I paid for it! I had to hide in toilets because I was in so much pain, but if I complained I got sent home and had to fill in a return to work which then was used against me – if you register as having more than 3 sicknesses in 3 months/10% absences you face a disciplinary. So either way I lose. But the flip side being, I know of Management who got drunk at work and then called in sick the next day- hangover much???? Or shift swapping to go see their boyfriends when we were down to 1 manager at a busy Christmas shift. Totally responsible, made everyone on that shop floor feel amazing.
So much awfulness in these emails.
For the record, if a medical professional tells you you need time off work, get a sick line (or fit for work thing as they call them now) from the doctor and hand it in, and DO NOT go back to work until the doctor has agreed you’re ready. If you get any shit from your employer, contact your union.
Critics of this blog try to say that Lush is a good employer because they’ve never seen anything like this happen, and these must be “rogue” shops. How many “rogue” shops and/or managers does it take before a widespread problem is recognised?
Just back from seeing new Ghostbusters. Loved it. It’s more or less the same plot as the first Ghostbusters (in the same way that The Force Awakens is more or less the same plot as A New Hope), and it’s just as enjoyable. And, the Ghostbusters themselves are four women who are intelligent, funny, brave, loyal, determined, and completely kick-ass while remaining fully clothed and avoiding cat-fights. A film like this was well overdue.
Two years on, how are they getting on with that pledge?
Surprise surprise! The Guardian says “the company has been unable to eradicate the mineral from its supply chain.” Lush say they haven’t knowingly bought any materials containing natural mica since 2014, but they also say “as a direct ingredient it would be easy to identify, but unfortunately mica remains as part of a complex mix of materials that are used to make colour pigments and lustres.” The article also says that Lush say they don’t have the local knowledge or purchasing power to stay and make a difference, but given that several other companies are working in the area to get children to school instead of mines, you’d think they could join in. Several companies, according to the article, have committed to only buying mica from legal and fenced mines, where child labour is less likely to be involved, as well as ending relationships with mines where audits showed child labour was used. But they all acknowledge it’s impossible to be 100% sure child labour was not involved. But, here’s the thing.
Which is more moral? Continuing to produce products even though you’re not 100% sure they didn’t involve child labour? Or discontinuing the products until you can be sure you have a child labour-free option?
Part five in our There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding Series
When war broke out in August 1914, the people of Britain clamoured to do what they could to support the war effort. Men volunteered for the army and others set about establishing relief units to help the army or provide assistance to civilians and refugees. The Scottish Women’s Hospitals were one of those – yet they were also very different, because, right from the beginning, they were set up with two very specific aims: firstly, to help the war effort by providing medical assistance and secondly, and equally importantly, to promote the cause of women’s rights and by their involvement in the war, help win those rights.
The SWH’s original idea was set up a hospital in Edinburgh to help treat the war wounded. However this was soon abandoned in favour of setting up hospitals in the field, close to…
Please vote tomorrow, if you can. Whether you vote in, vote out, or spoil your paper and vote shake it all about, please vote. This whole referendum campaign has been so unpleasant, so nasty and so full of crap, that the eventual losing side will have a field day if the final result is close on only a 30% turnout.
Lesley Kelly’s brand new thriller ‘A fine house in Trinity‘ features cameos from not one, but TWO of Edinburgh’s libraries within its 288 pages.
McDonald Road and Leith Library both make an appearance, but to find out why and how, you’ll have to read the book for yourself! Check it out in either hardcopy or ebook format.
‘A fine house in Trinity’ is the newest addition to our Edinburgh Reads Map of books set in our city. Take a look to find out which novels are set in your neighbourhood, and be sure to let us know of any we might have missed!