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Community shuts down café over failure to pay worker

ACTIVISTS protesting at a cafe accused of withholding several weeks’ owed pay from a sacked worker succeeded in shutting it down early on Saturday.

The protest outside Affogato cafe in Crawley, West Sussex, came after management cancelled a cheque made to Harry Sheppard before it could be cashed after weeks of alleged delays in payments and broken promises.

Campaigners say they were able to close down the cafe early by persuading customers to go elsewhere.

The shop owner subsequently agreed to pay the accrued wages in five days’ time, making the promise in writing, after eventually meeting the protesters.

Mr Sheppard said: “After being shown the door because they were overstaffed, the management have avoided and delayed paying me repeatedly.

“Last week they seemingly gave in and handed me a cheque, only to then call the bank and cancel it.”

Mr Sheppard said that it was “not on,” and said that other members of staff had not been paid either. He said that the management had left him with no choice but to take action.

“I’m very grateful to all those who came out in support, including those from my union, Unite Community, but we’re all aware the issue is not resolved until I am actually paid,” he said.

Local activists, trade unionists and borough councillors were among those taking part in the protest.

Ifield councillor Laura-Lee Willcock and Broadfield South councillor Tahira Rana joined the protest and Tilgate councillor Francis Guidera sent his support.

Ms Willcock said: “It’s outrageous some business owners believe they can get away with not paying their workers a wage.

“If the agreement is not fulfilled, we’ll be back again next week.”

Protesters are hopeful but say they are all prepared to continue action if necessary. Organiser Dan Dobson said: “Young people and other vulnerable workers are being exploited in high streets up and down the country.

“It’s time we challenged that here in Crawley. Keep watching this space.”

The business was approached but the manager was not available for comment.

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