Leicestershire-based food giant Samworth Brothers are the owners of Cornish pasty maker Ginsters, as well as being the largest maker of certified Melton Mowbray pork pies. Last year alone they boasted of pre-tax profits of £41.7 million. But Samworth Brothers also have a long history of funding the Tories. Little wonder then that they are a decidedly anti-union business.
With the introduction of the new living wage last April, Samworth’s bosses have cut paid breaks, and have ditched premium rates for working unsocial hours and overtime. Workers responded in their hundreds by joining the Bakers Food and Allied workers Union, packing a series of huge public meetings when the ‘restructuring’ was first announced in February.
But in a vicious turn of events, Kumaran Bose, one of the leading union organisers who has done much to speak out against the undemocratic nature of the pay restructuring, was sacked. Kumaran has worked for the company for twelve years with not a blemish to his name, but since the dispute has begun has been subjected to severe 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. And 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 him, accusing Kumaran of bullying his employers.
Worse still, despite the fact that the majority of people at Kumaran’s factory are members of the Bakers Union, the company refused 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 that Samworth’s management team will soon be 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 said they are disappointed by their work mates’ sacking but won’t be bullied or intimidated and will now redouble their efforts to recruit more members to send a clear message to their Tory-funding bosses that they will no longer take no for an answer.