Pure Class – how beauty salon workers at Silverburn stood up to zero hours and won

Last week staff at Pure Spa & Beauty, an Edinburgh-based company with chains across the UK, were told by the CEO Becky Woodhouse to accept zero hour contracts or resign. The workers at the Silverburn branch refused to accept the ultimatum. Here is their account of what happened.

We are the workers at PURE Spa & Beauty in Silverburn. Last week PURE’s chief executive Becky Woodhouse issued an ultimatum to all staff across the UK in light of the coronavirus crisis, demanding that we either sign a zero hour contract or resign. We were unwilling to accept this false choice: by resigning we would be losing our claim to redundancy payment, and by going onto zero-hours contracts we would lose our claim to our existing hours and pay. The government had clearly issued a statement saying they would release news of support for businesses, and that workers should not be laid off during this interim period. We came together to demand clarity and support from PURE. Instead of this, the company replied with repeated deadlines for signing the zero hours contract, all of which passed without consequence. Defeating this ultimatum gave us strength to stick to our collective position.

When the government announced 80% wage support, we wrote to PURE asking that we be allowed a choice between remaining on our existing contracts and receiving full pay, or be offered redundancy. We have seen many examples of companies in the UK keeping their staff on full pay with government support, and want PURE to do the same – one of our members has worked for 8 years at PURE and many of us have families to support.

When we reiterated our demands, PURE’s director and Becky Woodhouse’s partner Michael Lumsden made the bizarre threat that communicating via a representative that we had elected as a group could make us liable for damages. Meanwhile he spoke directly to the Sunday Times implying that the company might be able to revise its position on zero hours in light of government support. However in all communication with employees he had insisted that workers had to sign the zero hours contracts We decided to join the GMB union, and we also felt that it was the right time to speak to the media about our side of the story, to let other workers know why unity is so important.

On Tuesday morning, PURE capitulated. They offered to pay us 100% in March and 80% thereafter, with no change to our contracts. We stuck together, and this represents a significant victory.

These are hard times for businesses and workers. From the beginning of this crisis, we have stuck together as a group in the face of uncertainty. All we are demanding and working for is what we deserve and what our families need: full pay, with 80% paid for by government and 20% from PURE.

Becky Woodhouse is proud that PURE was ‘Employer of the Year 2019’ and promotes her ‘core values’. She is also upset about the lack of investment in ‘female entrepreneurs’, and said women should #askformore. Well that’s what we are doing. If she would look for just a second she would realise she has pure gold at Silverburn. She should be working with the women who have actually built the company and built up clients to get everyone through these next few months safely.

Our message to workers who are in uncertain positions is this: get together in a Whatsapp group and work together to demand what you all deserve. Don’t expect your boss to do it for you. We want to negotiate to get the best for all of us, not be dictated to. Instead of turning on each other we are sticking together through thick and thin and we’ll always remember that in the toughest of times we stood together, and together we will win.

Comments: 5 (Add)

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Pure Silverburn employee on March 26 2020 at 19:26

To the pure spa employee, while we think it's wonderful that you've taken the time to share your thoughts on the situation, it would be appreciated that you, who I am assuming does not work at Silverburn, do not speak for us. Because you signing the contract was the right thing for you does not mean it was the right thing for us. It may not seem like a legitimate win to you but for us it certainly does very much. No bashing involved on our end, and if ex employees wish to state their opinion then it is certainly their right to do so much like you have yours.

PURE SPA EMPLOYEE 2 on March 26 2020 at 19:13

I am also a pure spa employee and you certainly don't speak for me so hold up sista 🖕 I'd love to know what you think is untrue as I believe the girls at Silverburn have evidence to back up everything they have been PUT through! who asked for your opinion anyway?

If you're happy working for and sucking arses of people like this then trot on! However what you shouldn't be doing is pulling the fellow front line girls of this business down. I've seen that the motto for the silverburn girls is to stick together, maybe take a leaf from their book instead of bashing fellow colleagues. That ain't going to get you up the ladder. Kindest of regards 🖕

PURE Spa Employee on March 26 2020 at 12:19

I think I speak for all employees at PURE Spa & Beauty when I say we are extremely grateful for the the actions the CEO and Director have taken to ensure the future of the business and all jobs when we make it through this crisis.

It seems the silverburn staff haven't been 100% truthful and it is a real shame to see ex employees 👇🏻bash their ex employer... its online so it must be true 🤷🏻‍♀‍

I don't think we need to go into the nitty gritty of the untrue claims in this blog but the Coronavirus causes worry for all but at PURE Spa & Beauty, the CEO and Director are standing by their employees and this blog could not be further from the truth.

There was never anything “to win” If we all believed everything that was printed the world would be crazier than it already is 🙄

Stat safe ❤️

Rachel Haynes on March 25 2020 at 11:18

Girls, this is an amazing result! I am so proud of you! How dare she, how DARE she! I expect nothing less from the pair of them in normal times but seriously even in these circumstances - just proves what we have known for a long time, she’s a sociopath.

Jayne Slater on March 25 2020 at 08:46

Well done girls. I hope this will make management appreciate what amazing girls they have working for them and this is a start of a better working environment for you all. Miss you guys xx