|The impressive North Western JDW pub, Lime Street, Liverpool|
JDW employs 43,000 staff, and all were paid when they were supposed to be, receiving either their wages or their furlough payments. If a boycott were to succeed even partially, JDW would have to make many of them redundant at a time when tens of thousands (if not more) of other workers are likely to lose their jobs because of CV19. Other jobs - in pubs or elsewhere - will not be so readily available as they were pre-lockdown. I saw on Facebook one boycott advocate declaring that as people will still be drinking, ex-JDW staff will all be able to get jobs elsewhere. This is nonsense:
- The hospitality industry, including pubs, will be operating at a much lower level of income post-lockdown because some drinkers are still wary of coming out, especially those in vulnerable groups, and because social distancing reduces pub capacity.
- Lower pub incomes will result in fewer staff employed by pubs.
- With unemployment predicted to increase, and the incomes of many of those still in work likely to reduce, there will be less disposable income to spend in pubs.
- Some pubs will never reopen - I already know of one or two around here, and I fully expect to hear of more.
- As I wrote last September, "CAMRA says that avoiding isolation by going to the pub is a good thing, but without Wetherspoons, many people on low incomes could rarely, if ever, afford to go out for a pint." The number of such customers look set to increase, and it's logical to assume that many of them would be less able to afford the prices in non-JDW pubs.
- BFAWU, the trade union which represents JDW staff, has urged the public not to boycott the pubs.
I was going to leave this article there until I picked up the latest issue of 'Wetherspoon News' on Monday. I do understand that this is an in-house journal and what it says must be viewed in that light. However, Tim Martin has written a spirited defence of his company's actions at the beginning of lockdown, denying the accusations, and blaming the press's tendency to spin stories out of recognition and create pantomime villains. It's interesting that people who'd normally be sceptical, or at least questioning, about what they read or hear in the media (or MSM as some dismissively call it) have uncritically swallowed the anti-JDW story in its entirety. In support of his assertions, Martin has reprinted in the mag seven different press corrections to the story and a right of reply that he was given in a local paper. Newspapers don't like to print corrections, and won't do it on a whim. That they have done so is an admission that what they published contained inaccuracies.
I have no intention of reproducing his defence here - I'm not an apologist for the company which is much bigger and richer than me and, anyway, can speak for itself - but if you believe in seeing two sides to the story, I suggest you look at the mag, which is available free in all branches of Wetherspoons now.