Astonished staff at Lidl supermarket in Kirkcaldy have been given an ultimatum by bosses to stop conversing in Polish during break time - and to only speak English to Polish speaking customers.
One worker who wishes to remain anonymous said: “I tried to explain to the manager that many customers who do not speak English correctly come to our shop because they know there is a Polish service at the cash desk, bakery and shop floor as well.
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“The manager became irritated and told me to carry out his orders.
“If I am not able to accept them, I should be free to leave for home.
“My answer was stay at work.
“I am the sole bread winner in the family and I cannot be without a salary.”
A Lidl spokesman said today that it is Lidl UK company policy that staff speak in English to customers at all times, irrespective of nationality.
The anonymous worker added: “I have been living Scotland for nearly 10 years and I have never experienced any kind of discrimination.
“It is very sad to be forced to be forced to speak English to people who do not understand it and feel confused as they expect to be served in Polish.”
Some customers have already submitted complaints to Lidl’s head office in London.
A Lidl spokesman said: “It is Lidl UK company policy that staff speak in English to customers at all times, irrespective of nationality.
“This is for the benefit of all of our customers as well as our staff and is clearly stipulated in the employee handbook, which each member of staff receives during their induction.
“As is industry standard, we also do require employees to follow instruction given to them from their line manager and this is also clearly outlined in an employee’s contract upon joining.
“We are very proud to be an international employer that supports a diverse work force.”
A petition at the Polish Shop on Kirkcaldy High Street has gathered 100 signatures and Lidl workers intend to forward it to the firm’s European headquarters in Germany.
A Polish businessman, 35, from Kirkcaldy, who did not wish to be named, said: “I think this is one of the most ridiculous ideas I have ever heard in my life.”
He said that he had shopped at Lidl until recently and commented it was an obvious asset for businesses to employ multi-lingual staff.
He added: “I cannot imagine an opposite situation,
“Where a British worker is not allowed to speak to a British customer in the English language anywhere in Europe.”
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