#BoycottByron

Hello and hi. I have eaten at Byron more times than I can count on an abacus. They have gourmet burgers and pretty fab veggie burgers on their menu. Their onion rings are delish and I would sell my brogues for their fries. The food is that good. This week there have been calls to boycott Byron. Why you ask? Allow me. Just know that I wont be boycotting Byron-I have way too many other things I am boycotting at the moment and my diary just can’t take another boycott. And besides, the food is rather good. So this is what went down as Byron helped deport their own staff. What the what?

So, last week an email was sent to managers telling them meetings were to be held following visits from environmental health officers (EHO). It read:

“Morning,

“Due to recent EHO contact and receiving two 1 star ratings along with an increase in food safety audit fails. I feel immediate action needs to be taken in this area. In order to remain compliant and show that we are going above and beyond the expectations it is imperative that all our restaurants complete refresher Think Pink and updated food safety training. This will start from next week with a phased rollout across restaurants. The expectation is that all management team and BOH (Back of House) must attend including KPs (Kitchen Porters).”

The email listed 12 branches of the popular upmarket burger chain scheduled for the first training sessions, including Canary Wharf, Spitalfields, Finchley, Fulham Broadway and Camden.

“Your ops manager will be in touch by the end of today to confirm the schedule for your area. As you know, food safety should always be top of our agenda and with the increased focus on our company from EHO, your support is much appreciated in this matter. Should you have any questions do not hesitate to speak to your manager,” said the email. Kind of long for an email. But it was not a genuine email, rather it was a trap. A sting. I think you get the point.

So, prior to the sting,  it would appear as though Manager’s at Byron, worked in conjunction with the Home Office-they clearly knew they had illegal workers (immigrants without passports/proper papers) and practically offered them up on a plate to the Home Office, with a bit of relish on the side. This angered staff, of course it did, many called it “disgusting” while some said they were “thrown to the lions”-am not even sure what actually went down, but it looks real bad.

One chef, who previously worked for Byron, said he was removed from the country, said he had been taken to three different detention centres before been put on a plane to his native country. In addition, he said that he had been in the UK for two years and said he was not given any time to collect his belongings, including clothes and a laptop. Horrible. I think we all know by now that the Home Office does not play. Being an illegal immigrant or ‘over-stayer’ (someone who has overstayed the time limits of their visa) is extremely serious. Best to find yourself an immigration solicitor if that happens. For real.

Sources at the Home Office said reports on social media indicated that Byron knew it was employing workers in breach of immigration laws were incorrect.“There has been no suggestion whatsoever that this is the case, if it was they would have faced prosecution,” said a source. A Byron spokeswoman said: “We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests and processes throughout the course of the investigations leading to this action, and will continue to do so. We have also worked hard to ensure minimal impact on our customers while this operation was underway.”

In brief, the event-the sting (more like, the sting in the tail) prompted calls on social media to  boycott the chain-with one campaigner organising a protest at Holborn tube station in London on Friday evening, according to the Guardian. Most of the 35 employees who were arrested in the controversial immigration sting, have now been returned to their home country…faster than you can say ‘Do you want fries with that?’

Like I said, I have eaten at Bryon previously-sure, I noticed that the staff were non-British, but I didn’t think much of it-London is a pretty vibrant place with people living and working here from all nationalities. And besides, I am not thinking about whether or not the staff are legally entitled to work in the UK or not…I am thinking of what I can put in my belly. Yup.

Cheers

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2 comments

  1. Ben Amunwa · July 30, 2016

    Thanks for this Sam. It’s an interesting, zeitgeist-y story & I think it will stay relevant for some time. You beat me to it but I’m planning to blog about this from the perspective an immigration / employment lawyer. Till then, enjoy the weekend!

    • samdfb1 · July 30, 2016

      Welcome Ben! It is pretty relevant-especially now…post-Brexit. Am looking forward to reading your take on it. Have a nice weekend as well! 😉

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