Dagenham and Rainham MP calls on Costa Coffee to investigate history of 'shoddy working practice' following distraction theft
PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 August 2019
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas is calling on Costa Coffee to investigate "unorthodox management" at an Upminster cafe after a theft led to allegations that staff were being subjected to unauthorised pay deductions.
Police confirmed two men stole £280 from Costa Coffee in Station Lane, Upminster on Sunday, August 4 using sleight of hand.
The workers - one a 21-year-old from Dagenham - say they were told by the franchise owner to put the till right by the end of the night or the money would be deducted from their wages.
The franchise owner has since apologised to the 21-year-old for any "miscommunication" surrounding the incident and confirmed that no money would be deducted from her wages.
Costa Coffee insisted that it is not the company's policy for members of staff to pay back stolen funds.
However the incident has led to former employees at the cafe run by Goldex Investments Essex, to also claim that their pay was unfairly deducted while working at the company's two branches in Station Lane.
Mr Cruddas put four questions to the managing director of Costa Coffee UK in his letter, including clarification on what protocols are in place to ensure franchises are operating to standard and what action will be taken to ensure workers rights are being upheld at the cafe's stores.
He wrote: "Your comms team responded by stating that this was not usual practice and that workers were not asked to repay the money. "However they failed to clarify why staff were under the impression that this exchange had taken place.
"After the incident came to light in the local press, I discovered that a number of residents who had previously worked in the branch and had similar experiences."
The MP also asked what Costa will do to ensure workers are reimbursed for unfair deductions.
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"I am appalled at what this incident has unearthed; a history of shoddy working practice, unorthodox management, and poor treatment of staff at the branch - particularly young workers who allege to have been on the receiving end of intimidating behaviour and workplace bullying by the management," said Mr Cruddas.
"There have even been alleged incidences where wages have been docked to pay for staff training."
After the theft Jeff, the father of the 21-year-old barista, met with the franchise owner and a representative from Costa Coffee.
He said: "When I went into the meeting the only thing that I wanted was an apology for my daughter, but then because people had come forward, I felt more of a moral responsibility.
"I also wanted some assurance that people could get in touch and any unfair deductions back."
Since news of the incident was shared widely on social media, Jeff has been contacted by former employees who shared similar complaints regarding pay deductions.
He told the Recorder: "The support from the local community has been amazing.
"If I was to stand up and try and do this alone, it wouldn't be possible.
"There was a 16-year-old lad on duty at the same time and it's important to remember that he was impacted as well.
"It's not really just about my daughter anymore, but about everyone that has come forward with different claims and allegations."
Costa Coffee has been contacted for comment.