A fair “fika”?

Fika (Source Dario Varotto on Picasa)

Swedish restaurant Fika (a Swedish word for socializing over a cup of coffee) on Brick Lane surely looks inviting when you pass by with their salmon specials and cute Swedish staff, but is it really?

Last week I found out about the unethical treatment of their employees which I can assure you is far from Swedish.

A friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous attended a job interview at Fika because she needed a part-time job that would earn her some cash at the same time as keeping her occupied during her gap year after uni. Or at least so she thought…

During the interview she was asked personal questions that were completely irrelevant to the job such as: Do you have a boyfriend? Where is he from? How much is your rent?

Following that the Swedish manager interviewing her clearly pointed out: “We work black here, are you ok with that?” Ok, this is not a good start but my friend patiently waited for the rest before making up her mind, afterwall she needed the money.

The money however was a ridiculous under minimum wage of £5 per hour. And what came next was even better- the manager tells her, she decides how the tip and service charges are split between the staff. “If someone is lazy they should not get someone else’s tip” she explained this rather disturbing decision. My immediate response to this is: How does she know how much everyone is working? Is she watching them? And how do they know she does not keep any of that tip?

I suppose she does watch the staff. This is why she “warned” my friend that she would time her with a stopwatch to see how quick she was in the kitchen- another great job perk.

The two faced Fika goes a long way in showing how a dodgy restaurant can be hiding under the clean practices of a country like Sweden where all of the above mentioned things would be illegal. I just hope that not too many fresh faced, newly arrived Swedes have fallen for Fika’s tasteless offer in their search for a job that pays the rent.

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