Revs attacked by ex-staff for alleged lack of breaks and forged reviews

Image: Maria Kalinowska

Three York students who have worked at Revolution York bar (Revs) have spoken out against its management, alleging to have worked up to 12-hour shifts without breaks, having been asked to fabricate reviews on the Revs Facebook page, and being witness to discomforting behaviour from members of management staff.

Second year Politics student Abigail Eatock, who worked at Revs until she left in December last year, voiced her concerns to the company’s head office regarding these issues. For making this complaint, she reports that she was initially barred by regional management from Revs.

“I used to go home most days and just cry,” Eatock commented, speaking to Nouse. “People were miserable, but couldn’t quit because they needed the money.”

The majority of Revs staff are currently students. Former employee Alex Jee, also a student at the University of York, claimed that the bar’s management “made us work really long shifts with no breaks, and shouted at us for not performing at top levels.”

Multiple members of Revs staff, Eatock alleges, were subject to an “illegal” lack of breaks during shifts lasting longer than six hours. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, it is required that employees are given a 20-minute break within a shift lasting longer than six hours.

“We were denied a break on a particular Saturday because the manager decided the floor was ‘a mess’,” Eatock said. “When I brought up to another manager that this was said, she accused me of shit-stirring and playing management staff against one another.”

Screenshots from the Revs staff group detail the allegations:

Responding to these allegations, a Revolution Bars Group spokesperson provided the following statement: “Breaks are twenty minutes long for every six hour shift, long shifts have a break of one hour between shifts. We have reminded all staff at York what the company policy is on breaks so that no-one is unsure of their entitlement. Revolution Bars Group adheres to all workplace health, safety and welfare guidelines across all our bars and restaurants, with the well-being of our team members, from students through to our managers is always of paramount importance. We ensure that all our staff are provided with adequate breaks, as per the Workplace Regulations Act.”

There were also accusations that a ‘lad culture’ existed among management. According to Eatock, Revs staff held a “best snog” competition on New Year’s Eve. The ‘winner’ of this competition was allegedly a manager, and Eatock claims that their recorded kiss with a customer was uploaded to the staff Facebook group.

A former Revs staff member from the University of York, who wishes to remain anonymous, claimed to have worked within a workplace culture that was “horrifying for what I witnessed and was part of”, in which “really inappropriate things were said”.

A Revolutions Bars Group spokesperson stated: “Revolution Bars Group takes these allegations very seriously. As an equal employer, we do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or colour. Equality plays an integral part in the way our team treat each other as well as guests.”

On the same staff Facebook group, a sales coordinator asked employees to write five-star reviews on the venue’s Facebook page. When only one employee complied with this request, he told other members of staff “You’re shit!” Further to this, he informed them that he would no longer be providing bookings and free bottles of an alcoholic drink – a staff perk – for them, were they to dine at the venue with friends.

Responding on behalf of Revolution Bars Group, a spokesperson stated: “We understand a party co-ordinator prompted staff to do this in error and once brought to the manager’s attention, the matter was addressed and halted immediately. Feedback and reviews are important within the hospitality industry, however at no point do Revolution Bars Group request the employees fabricate reviews. If an individual chooses to leave a review on the venue’s Facebook page, or otherwise, this is on behalf of the individual and not at the request of Revolution Bars Group.”

A separate Facebook group for Revs employees was set up by Eatock, with the permission of management, designed for employees to discuss how the operations of Revs could be improved.

Eatock claims that, after she reported to a manager that the lack of breaks had been repeatedly flagged as an issue by the group, she was informed that she would “need a supervisor” in it.

In response to these allegations, a spokesperson for Revolution Bars Group commented: “We have been in touch with the former staff members and requested meetings with each one to request more detail. We’ve discussed these matters with one of the former staff members and they felt the meeting was constructive and understood that any concerns they had were now being addressed. The two other former staff members have either refused a meeting or not replied to our request for one.”

One comment

  1. Sadly a similar case in many student bars, especially Lowther. It’s what you get when your main clientele is smashed students until all hours. They compete on lowest prices and how late they stay open, and because of the number of students desperate for the money they can be sure that in most cases any issue raised with management will be dealt with by dismissal.

    In terms of legality it’s the same deal, you’ll find most student bartenders in busy bars haven’t been trained properly, especially with regards to holding personal licenses or knowing their liabilities when it comes to the license of the bar itself. Inexperienced staff, inexperienced managers / supervisors and often owners who have no interest in the wellbeing of staff and customers – students are always going to need money, students are always going to flock in droves to the cheapest bar offering the most alcoholic drink.