Leicestershire-based food giant, Samworth Brothers are the owners of Cornish pasty maker Ginsters, as well as being the largest manufacturer of certified Melton Mowbray pork pies. Last year alone they boasted of pre-tax profits of £41.7 million. However, Samworth Brothers also have a long history of funding the Conservative Party. Little wonder then, that they are a decidedly anti-Trade Union business.
Since the introduction of the new ‘living wage’ in April this year, bosses at Samworth have cut paid breaks and have ditched premium rates for working unsociable hours and overtime in order to dodge their moral responsibility, thus making their workers fund the living wage themselves. Workers responded in their hundreds by joining the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, packing out a series of huge public meetings when the ‘restructuring’ was first announced in February.
Despite the strength of feeling among the workforce, Kumaran Bose, one of the leading Union organisers at the Samworth Brothers site, who has done much to speak out against the undemocratic nature of the pay restructuring, was sacked on Friday, June 3rd. Kumaran has worked for the company for twelve years with neither a blemish to his name or his work record; but since the dispute began, he has been subjected to a severe campaign of bullying from his managers. Kumaran’s only crime has been his outstanding success in convincing more than 50% of the workers in his factory to join the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union. What his Managers particularly disliked was his brave decision to stand up for his rights and refuse to accept that he and his fellow workers should be treated so appallingly, and that their families should be denied a decent standard of living. Bizarrely, when Kumaran lodged a formal grievance against his Samworth Management at Kettleby Foods, the company management team responded by embarking upon a retaliatory disciplinary procedure against Kumaran, accusing him of bullying his employers! Worse still; despite the fact that the majority of people at Kumaran’s factory are now members of the BFAWU, the company still refuse to give the Union a voluntary recognition at the site. A formal appeal against this decision has now been lodged with the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) and the odds are strongly in favour of the workforce at Samworth’s. Hopefully, this will lead to the management team being forced by law to give formal recognition to the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.
In the meantime, Kumaran’s managers will no doubt continue to use every trick in the book to block their employees request and the right to join a Union. The workers there have told us that although they are disappointed by the sacking of their workmate, they will not be bullied or intimidated and will in fact, re-double their efforts to recruit more members and send a clear message to their Tory funding bosses, that they will not take no for an answer.
We are calling on all fair minded people to support our call for the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose. Please email Samworth Brothers bosses at Paul.Davey@Bradgate-Bakery.co.uk and demand the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose.
George Atwall (BFAWU No.3 Regional Officer)