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Papa John’s workers win two months’ back pay after protest supported across the city

WORKERS at a Papa John’s in Sheffield have won two months’ back pay after staging a protest that won support across the city.

The workers were employed at the Ecclesall Road branch of the pizza takeaway chain, which was run by a businessman as a franchise.

He shut the business down without notice and disappeared. 

Employees, who were owed two months’ wages, did not know about the closure until they turned up for work and found the premises locked.

The business was then taken over by a new franchise holder.

As reported in the Morning Star on Monday last week, the workers, who are members of the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), staged a protest at the takeaway, supported by the Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise campaign, Sheffield Trades Union Council and community activists including Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.

The new franchise holder agreed to pay the workers the money they were owed and they were paid in full on Friday.

Former Papa John’s worker and BFAWU member Gio Lanera said: “The way Papa John’s treated us in the middle of a global pandemic is one of the lowest things an employer could do. 

“At the start of lockdown I found myself in a desperate situation trying to find employment. 

“I started working at Papa John’s and I’ve got to say I’ve never been treated so badly in any other employment. To top it off, we then didn’t even get paid.”

Mr Lanera said he complained to Papa John’s corporate management, but “they didn’t care.”

“When you’re on your own, corporations and franchise owners can ignore you,” he said. “But when you come together with your co-workers in a union, people have to take you more seriously. It’s gotten sorted so quickly since we joined the union.”

Sheffield is the low-pay capital of Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics in 2019, and has the highest proportion of workers on low pay compared with all other city regions.

The numbers of people in part-time work, short-hours and zero-hours contracts are all above the national average, while the share of part-time employees who reported being unable to find full-time work has also risen since 2008.

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