We document this call by comrades from Horeca United, an independent hospitality union in Amsterdam.

We’re all quite aware that there is an inherent threat to employment, namely the threat of no longer being employed and the consequences thereof. You could ostensibly say, then, that any boss is in a small way intimidating you with the shared knowledge that they could take your income away without too much fuss. What about a more direct form of intimidation, then? How does that look? Well, we’ve seen in Hossein Akef of Lupi Coffee exactly how it can look.

The plight of the employees of Lupi Coffee has been a grim one. Underpaid, watched on the cameras, unpaid overtime, you name it. Having to pay to train for the job is one you weren’t going to name but it has certainly taken place at Lupi. Not content with apparently deliberately picking staff from vulnerable groups like foreign students and going on to exploit them in a very open fashion [1], Akef has taken to retaliating against those who have spoken up. What is notable about his approach is that he has simultaneously taken a legal and an extralegal route. How is that? First, the extralegal: in direct and prompt retaliation to our recent flyer action [2], Akef decided to perform a similar action of his own [3], hanging posters singling out of one of the more outspoken ex-workers, a woman of course, from another country, of course. While we have directly referenced actions taken by Lupi Coffee that we dispute in our materials, Akef has chosen to make vague statements about this ex-worker that target the aforementioned aspects of her character. This while commissioning [4] a puff piece on indebuurt.nl [5] using his own struggle as a former asylum seeker from his own country, one that neighbours this particular ex-worker’s, to garner sympathy for his success story. Whether he thinks that he is set apart because he is now rich, or that his homeland is better than hers, or that he is “one of the good ones”, remains to be made explicitly known.

One thing we would have expected from such a shrewd entrepreneur is that he would cover his face while doing this, or send someone else to do it, since he chose a public area of her condominium to hang the posters in, which is of course covered by cameras. Naturally, he chose not to, perhaps to show that he had snooped out the address (of a woman who had given him her address some time prior when her work contract was drawn up), perhaps because it slipped his mind. He wore gloves, at least, but he still has egg on his face, or rather, caviar of dubious origin [6] on his face. Either way, the intention of intimidation is clear.

The legal route taken is less sensational. Akef has employed lawyer Olivier van Hardenbroek [7], apparently an acquaintance of his from the Hague Business Club [8] and a baron of all things, to send vague and possibly expensive letters asking us to desist with our campaign. We don’t want to reveal too much, for fear of damaging his reputation and boring you, dear reader, but judging by the circumlocutory nature of the correspondence, it is unclear whether this man is being paid by the letter, and judging by the irrelevancy of the information therein, it is unclear whether Akef has hired him because he owes him a favour. It paints quite a David-and-Goliath image for us, as a small group of working people, to be pitched against a caviar mogul and his noble lackey. Quite jarring, at any rate, that he chooses to invoke the law to intimidate people speaking up against his illegal activity, while relying on an at least soon-to-be explicitly illegal [9] method of retaliation, all the while denying in statements to the press [10] that his company breaks any laws. To quote his comment to Leids Dagblad:

“Lupi B.V. is an official company, with three branches, that abides by Dutch law. If a judge declares that we have not acted in accordance with the law, we will of course correct that.”

Incorrigible or not, we have not yet come to an agreement on whether this two-pronged defence is four dimensional chess or the clumsy blunder of a businessman with too little time on his hands. A considerable amount of money, then, we’re sure you’ve noticed, to be spending on patching up his public reputation, and a considerable amount of time to be spending on building upon what appears to be an attempt at a personality cult [11] styled after the likes of noted human trafficker Andrew Tate on social media [12]. This money and time, we’re sure you’ll agree, could be more sensibly spent on things like paying his staff the wages they’re legally entitled to, and making sure his current staff are working under better conditions than those now published in national news. As mentioned throughout, his motives are unclear. His motives are unclear because he still refuses to negotiate! That is, unless we drop our demands, which we are not willing to do. We call upon Akef to stop his Pyrrhic campaign of exploitation and come and meet us!

By Bob H on behalf of Horeca United


1 Catch up with the whole story on the Horeca United website

2 Photos of the flyer action can be seen on Horeca United’s Instagram page

3 Akef’s poster appears in an article in the Algemeen Dagblad “Onderbetaald, geen pauze en poepen in een zak: oud-werknemers koffiezaak in opstand”

4 In de Buurt has a page here clarifying that entrepreneurs can buy flattering articles from them:

5 Akef’s puff piece can be found here

6 He has been anonymised in most news articles about it, but his record is not clean

7 A short profile of van Hardenbroek, who specialises in a few areas that are noticeably not libel

8 The name is loosely translated into English for this article

9 Using personal details in order to intimidate is set to become illegal as of 2024

10 Akef’s statement can be found towards the end of this article

11 Lupi’s branding revolves largely around the man himself and has a new-age, false messiah feeling to it

12 For example, here is a video where Akef explains that anyone can be rich if they work hard enough
(which is true as long as you work hard enough at skirting the law and exploiting your staff)