A campaign group, Spoons Against Brexit, claims Mr Martin is “exploiting his position” by forcing staff to distribute beer mats, leaflets, magazines and menus that advocate his “dangerous” political views.
Ahead of the 2016 EU referendum 200,000 beer mats urging punters to vote in favour of Brexit were distributed throughout the Wetherspoons’ pub network.
Last year the company announced it would stop selling French Champagne and German beer in favour of alternatives from non-EU nations ahead of Brexit.
The Spoons Against Brexit Facebook page has attracted over 1,000 followers which organisers say comprise Wetherspoon’s staff and supporters. The group is urging workers and members of the public sign an online petition demanding the company withdraw all “propaganda”, pay staff the Living Wage and offer trade union recognition.
The UK Living Wage outside of London is currently £9 per hour, while in London it is £10.55 per hour.
A launch statement published to coincide with a petition says:
“[Mr] Martin routinely labels Remain supporters the ‘metropolitan elite’; yet he himself is an incredibly wealthy man, accruing a tidy net wealth of almost £500m in no small part by paying his staff poverty wages.”
It continues: “He forces staff members to distribute propaganda in favour of a hard Brexit – something which would drive down our working conditions and living standards even further…
Any Brexit currently on offer will see an end to freedom of movement and the rights of EU working class people, including many of those who keeps Wetherspoon running, to travel freely, and it will almost certainly lead to thousands of EU nationals being refused the right to settled status here [sic].
“We refuse to propagandise for politics that will only do us harm if enacted.
“Studies have consistently refuted claims that immigration is linked to low wages. Migrants don’t drive down wages; but wealthy, exploitative bosses like Tim Martin do.”
Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for Wetherspoon’s and Mr Martin, said: “The current edition [of Wetherspoon’s News] contains over 100 pages, 90 per cent of which are filled with stories and features about our pubs and customers.
“There are eight pages in the centre relating to Brexit with articles both for and against it. The aim of this is to stimulate debate on the subject.
“We appreciate not all our staff or customers agree with our stance on putting Brexit-related articles in the magazine. Any member of staff who does not wish to put the magazines out in the pub does not have to – we have reiterated that to managers.”
Mr Gershon continued: “In terms of wages, we appreciate staff do a fantastic job. We pay above the minimum wage across our pubs, and staff are also able to receive share options after a qualifying period. We also pay millions in bonuses each year.”
He added that there were no plans to introduce more pro-Brexit beer mats to Wetherspoon’s pubs but declined to comment on whether or not the company planned to recognise the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.