Papa John’s pizza shops (PJ), contrary to their folksy name, are a massive American chain with over 350 franchises across Britain and 5,000 franchises elsewhere. The franchises are managed locally by numerous franchisees.
On Saturday 25 July, workers and ex-workers gathered outside the Papa John’s on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield to protest at the treatment meted out to them.
When the previous franchise holder, Tofur Ali, was running the shop, wages were not paid on time and in some cases amounted to less than the legal minimum. There was no access to private toilets and staff worked long shifts without breaks. The shop stayed open throughout the coronavirus lockdown under these conditions.
Then on 27 June, staff turned up to work only to learn that the shop was closed, Tofur Ali had been ousted and the business was under new management. In the ensuing month the new franchisee failed to take responsibility for the wages that Tofur Ali had illegally withheld from the workers.
It was only when they stood outside the shop, supported by the bakers union (BFAWU) and local community activists, demanding that Papa John’s pay them what they were owed that a grudging undertaking was extracted that the issue would be resolved and the workers paid.
It is through such struggles as these for basic pay and decent working conditions that workers in Britain will finally start to regain confidence in themselves and their class, learning how to exercise their collective power and discovering their true class interests.