Mooboo Tea to begin paying trainees, after pressure from BetterThanZero

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Credit: Mike Krzeszak

Wallis Spence
Deputy News Editor

Allegations have been directed at Mooboo Bubble Tea regarding 40 hours of unpaid training for potential staff, with no guaranteed job at the end of it. As of this week, Mooboo Bubble Tea has changed its policy and now all trainees will be paid at least the minimum wage from their first hour of work.

The stores in Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre originally faced allegations and criticism for their unpaid training of many potential employees. Better Than Zero began a petition calling for the company to drop these trial shifts, which reached over 13,000 signatures.

Stewart McDonald, Scottish National Party (SNP) MP for Glasgow South, wrote an open letter to the HRMC regarding the issue. He stated that the company temporarily blocked him on social media in order to prohibit him from contacting them. They are also facing claims that they deleted social media comments regarding their employment practises when faced with criticism about this exploitation.

McDonald stated, “I’m concerned this unpaid 40 hour trial is in breach of the national minimum wage definition.

“I’m asking that HMRC officials investigate this matter thoroughly to ensure that prospective employees are not being exploited and to send a strong message that this kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable.”

The Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) stated that there is no legally set number of unpaid training hours, but regardless of this, employers should be paying the appropriate wage “even for a one-day trial.”

The Glasgow branch organiser for Better Than Zero, Bryan Simpson, stated: “Currently there is no hard and fast legislation on shadow shifts which means that there is nobody policing what is going on.

“We are a grassroots organisation but it is good to have a voice like Stewart McDonald supporting us at that kind of level.

“Maybe this is just one manager but we are getting more reports coming in from across the country so it seems that this is being replicated elsewhere.”

Several MPs are to speak with the Mooboo franchise in the House of Commons, as workers from stores in Liverpool and London have also been in touch with Better Than Zero sharing similar experiences.