Argument between employees, owner of Karachi’s Adobo Mexican Grill over salary dispute makes its way online
A dispute between employees and the owner of Karachi-based eatery Adobo Mexican Grill made its way to social media after a group of employees posted a video of themselves protesting not being paid their salaries online. The owner has spoken out and said the issue began them investigating theft and spiralled.
In the video, employees from the Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society branch of Adobo stood outside the restaurant and said they had been mistreated by the owner.
The person in the centre of the video identified himself as Shabbir Hussain, the kitchen supervisor of Adobo Mexican Grill. In the video, he said he had been forced to call the police because of the owner’s behaviour. He accused the owner of acting poorly with them and said he was refusing to give them their salaries.
He also accused the owner of using profanity and picking up a chair to hit one of the employees in the video. “He said ‘call whichever government you want to, call whichever police station you want to’,” said Hussain. Another person off-camera claimed that the owner had had staff members locked up, which Hussain seconded, saying it had happened twice. The camera then panned to another man in a black t-shirt who, according to the video, was fired without salary. “He has been given half his salary so far and told, ‘call whoever you want, you won’t get the rest of your salary’,” the staff member claimed in the video.
Hussain requested the government of Pakistan to get them their salaries and shut down the restaurant. “All staff members are being treated poorly here,” he accused. Another employee who didn’t give his name said everyone was fasting there and they were not allowed to go out to get iftar. “This man went out to get iftar and the owner got angry at him and fired him without pay,” Hussain interjected, pointing in the direction where the man in the black t-shirt was standing.
Asad Vayani, the owner of Adobo, told Images they have been investigating theft at the SMCHS branch for some time and the staff are all aware of it. “We caught our cashier red handed, with evidence, taking money and I had personally taken him to the police station with this evidence. I didn’t call any contact or connection, I called 15 directly and when they reached they asked if I had evidence and went with them to the station. After him crying and begging us we let him go instead of filing an FIR,” he said. That cashier was fired and he agreed to pay back what he stole, according to the restaurant owner.
“Since then we have noted other discrepancies in our inventory and costs so had let the staff know we were thoroughly monitoring everything. We had a feeling that due to this, several staff members would take their salaries and run away, which would have caused us to shut the branch down. I never said that I wasn’t paying the staff their salary, I said that I would pay them half salary now and half within the next week. They said no and demanded that I give all the salary now or they would walk out.”
Vayani said that the staff members threatened to call their contacts in the police, which the main person speaking in the video, Shabbir, did. “I told them if they walk out and we have to close the branch, they would not get any salary. Even though we are sure that they were involved in the theft we were investigating and they formed a group and threatened us to close down, my mother has convinced me to pay them their salary as they come from underprivileged backgrounds and it is a difficult time,” he said.
“We have also received threats and don’t want this to go on anymore. We have never mistreated our staff or not paid them salary unless there was a reason not to, for example theft or stopping showing up to work without a resignation notice, which we have faced before.”
Vayani said he has “never ever resorted to anything physical” and is completely against violence of any kind. “When this altercation happened that night, in the heat of the moment I might have let one or two swear words out but not directly at any staff. Staff members were swearing directly at me and my family,” he claimed, adding that when one of the staff members started running towards him to hit him, he grabbed a chair to keep in between them. “I said I did not want to fight but if he hits me I will defend myself and he calmed down,” he said.
Regarding another claim made by the staff in the video of a person being fired for going out to get iftar, Vayani said, “This individual Mesum who was fired used to show up whenever he wanted, sometimes an hour or two late. Sometimes he would leave in the middle of operations and disappear for hours. We believe the manager had a good relationship with him as he never told us this but we caught it ourselves and gave him multiple warnings.”
He added that the day he was fired, he had disappeared prior to iftar time and was gone until after Maghrib while they were short staffed.
“We had explained to the staff that we have to make sure customers are served their iftar in time, so they can open their fast and make sure that customers are served and then get a proper break, of course. Why would we deny our staff that? But he disappeared for a lengthy time past azaan after repeated warnings. That day we were short-staffed and [serving] customers was very delayed with several items running out, which is what happens when staff do things like this and that’s why we have these policies,” he said.
“Customers who were fasting were still standing and waiting for food. I then fired him, and after some deductions for his behaviour and attitude, for which he had received several warnings, paid his remaining salary,” he said.