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Coronavirus Kent: Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin tells workers to get job at Tesco

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin says his workers can take jobs with supermarkets - after the chain's 850 UK pubs were forced to close.

In a video to his 40,000 staff, he says he can "completely understand" if they want to work for stores like Tesco, which has launched a huge recruitment drive.

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin outside the Sir Norman Wisdom in Deal
JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin outside the Sir Norman Wisdom in Deal

The government has said it will pay 80% of salaries for workers at firms affected by the coronavirus such as Wetherspoon - which has 23 pubs across Kent.

But Mr Martin fears there may be a delay in the wage subsidy becoming available.

"I know that almost all our trade now has gone to supermarkets," he says in the video.

"We've had lots of calls from supermarkets. Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them - that's half the number of people who work in our pubs.

"If you're offered a job at a supermarket, many of you will want to do that.

Tim Martin understands if staff want to take jobs with supermarkets
Tim Martin understands if staff want to take jobs with supermarkets

"If you think it's a good idea, do it. I can completely understand it."

Mr Martin says former workers will have first preference if they want to rejoin Wetherspoon when the pubs eventually welcome back punters.

He adds: "We will obviously completely understand that you don't want to wait around for us to re-open - but deeply appreciate your work. Best of luck."

Meanwhile, Wetherspoon staff have written to bosses demanding full pay. They say the company will only pay them for the hours they have worked up until March 22.

"From that point on we will not receive any payment from Wetherspoon until they receive the government grant, which could be until the end of April," the letter says.

"Whilst other companies such as Costa have promised their staff eight weeks fully paid, Wetherspoon has left over 40,000 people without their next pay date. With no means of paying for rent, bills or food, and no warning."

One of Kent's Spoons is the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, said to be the UK's biggest pub
One of Kent's Spoons is the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, said to be the UK's biggest pub

Supermarkets have been recruiting thousands of staff to cope with the unprecedented surge in demand from shoppers.

Tesco wants to take on 20,000 temporary workers to “help feed the nation”.

Meanwhile, 5,000 new temporary posts are being created at Aldi and another 2,500 at Lidl. Morrisons is creating 3,500 new jobs, including pickers, drivers and staff for its distribution centres.

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