The human pizza boxes advertising Domino’s around Keighley claim they are being paid just £3 an hour.
A team of 20 wobble boarders has become a familiar sight in the past weeks at the town’s roundabouts and busy junctions.
But the lads –from Romania and Hungary – are allegedly earning well below the minimum wage of £6.70.
Domino’s claims the ad lads, who are spread as far and wide as Haworth, Harden, Steeton and Silsden take regular comfort breaks at the local Domino’s store in Stockbridge and get a free medium pizza and drink for lunch.
Locals have branded the ad campaign ‘degrading’ and ‘exploitation’ but Domino’s and the agency supplying the lads insist they are happy to do the work and are well looked after.
But on Tuesday evening, when six human pizza boxes finished their shift at 4pm they sat on the wall outside the Toby Carvery – in temperatures of 5degrees centigrade until 6.45pm, when they were eventually picked up by a 1st Choice minibus.
None of the boys, who were just a couple of hundred yards from Domino’s, in Stockbridge, took refuge in the shop – as Domino’s HQ suggest they should.
Locals have spotted and commented upon the wobble boarders, promoting ‘ANY SIZE PIZZA £6.99’, in the past weeks.
Marius Robert, 32, was advertising the pizza shop outside Asda.
Marius told KeighleyOnline:”We work from 8am to 4pm, when it gets dark.
“I am from Romania and this is my only job and I am paid £3 an hour,” said Marius, who also said he lives in Leeds.
London-based Extreme Advertising supplied the 20 human pizza boxes and insist they are paid above the minimum wage.
Marketing manager Zoltan Veress said that the Keighley group have been in the UK for a fortnight, having been employed to advertise the pizzas.
Mr Veress said:”I have 80 guys in total advertising in the country and 20 in Keighley.
“It is very, very weird that they are saying they are getting paid £3 an hour.
“They don’t understand very good English and maybe that is why they are saying their wage is £3.”
Mr Veress, who is Hungarian, said his employees work from 7.30 to 10.30am and then have a one hour break. They then work a further four hours with a break, making a total of 7 hours in the elements.
He said they get a free medium sized pizza every day for lunch, which is delivered to them by one of the three supervisors who also ensure they get comfort breaks.
Mr Veress said that the guys are inside their house by 5pm, and when challenged that six of his staff where not picked up until 6.45pm on Tuesday night – having sat for 2hrs and 45min on the wall outside the Toby Carvery – he explained that one of the supervisor’s cars had broken down and Extreme Advertising had to organise a minibus. 1st Choice did pick the six up.
Helen Tosney-Collins, spokesperson for Domino’s Pizza Group, said: “A wobble boarder’s safety, security and wellbeing, along with that of the general public, are a top priority for Domino’s Pizza Group and our franchisees and a full risk assessment has been carried out in relation to wobble boarding.
“We work closely with the promotions agency to ensure that all our wobble boarders are aged 16 or over and are paid at or above the minimum wage.
“Our wobble boarders receive a complimentary medium pizza and a drink for lunch. For those that choose to wobble board, they follow our lists of recommendations and advice on wobble boarding and call into the store at regular intervals, take the appropriate breaks, keep hydrated and most importantly, stay safe.
“Wobble boarding is unusual but it does work extremely well. We realise it’s not to everyone’s taste but it is a key part of our marketing activity and we take every care in looking after all our wobble boarders.”
And the boys are doing some good in the town. Leigh Reilly posted on the Domino's Pizza Keighley Facebook page:”I have just witnessed your advertising board man on the corner of Hanover Street Keighley show a great act of kindness. Even though he is enduring freezing temperatures today he saw an elderly lady struggling to walk to a parked taxi due to icy conditions and mobility problems.
“He threw off his billboard & sprinted to her aid (superman style), He helped the elderly lady fully into the taxi & also carried all of her shopping bags for her. This gentleman is a credit to your company & deserves free meat feast pizza with cheesy crust for life.”
But also posted on the Facebook site are less complimentary comments. Jayne Pickard wrote:” I have driven past three of these billboard workers this past week. Standing on street corners, in the rain, freezing, and felt sorry for them. There's no bag with them so obviously they've not got a hot drink in a flask or anything.
“Quite where they're meant to have one of these "regular breaks" you state they have, when they're standing in the middle of nowhere is beyond my comprehension.
“The one standing at the junction of Harden Road and Long Lee Lane has nowhere to go nor the one at the mini-roundabout in Harden.”
Louise Holt wrote:” Been reading the comments on the guys stood out with the boards, you said they have regular breaks and call back to the store at regular intervals ???? I work in Bingley and the dedicated chap has been stood there all week !
“He has not moved all day, I do hope they are getting PAID a good wage for doing this and not just getting free pizzas !”
Law student Chelsey Ritchie spoke to one of the human pizza boxes and told KeighleyOnline:” He was stationed on the road where you turn to Sainsbury’s, he dropped his phone and I went to pick it up because he couldn't get out of his box.
“ I then started asking where he was from and he said Syria. I asked if he had any kids and he said two and a wife, I said I hope they're paying you well to work that job and he said yes £3 an hour as though that was a lot.
“He said he claimed asylum here in November, he lives with a few friends, today I went looking for him and he was outside Oakworth School at finishing time I had looked all over and I live in Haworth and came home Oakworth Road way.
“ I dropped him off details of a social worker for him to see whether him and his friends are entitled to any other benefits. I know he
wasn't lying, mainly because he was proud and didn't want people feeling sorry for him. He was happy as Larry which angered me even more that he's been taken advantage of.”