For the past 15 years, Carol Gasson has worked for Samworth Brothers and is currently employed as a Personnel Manager at Kettleby Foods. Unfortunately Carol sees no role for unions in society, let alone at her workplace. Apparently she has internalised the Tory lies propagated in the national media on an almost daily basis about the negative role played by unions.
Not unsurprisingly, Carol’s bosses at Samworth Brothers are vigorously opposed to their workers exercising their democratic right to have a collective voice in a trade union. Senior managers at Samworth Brothers, however, have much more to gain from an unorganised workforce, which is why they have spent many years investing heavily in the anti-worker politics of the Conservative Party.
Sir David Samworth retired from overseeing Samworth Brothers operations in 2005 but has always been well-connected in industrialist circles, indeed he was even a member of the secretive Tory pressure group known as the Midlands Industrial Council. Likewise, Sir David’s son, Mark Samworth, who is a current Director at Samworth Brothers, has donated £585,000 to the Tories since 2010 (Daily Mirror, May 11, 2015).
As well as supporting the Tories, Samworth Brothers alspo strive to maximise their profits at the expense of normal workers by ensuring that the major shareholder of Samworth Brothers, a company called SFH Investments, is based in the tax haven of Jersey (see “Jersey is the breeding ground for inequality”).
Keen to ingratiate herself to her fat-cat Tory bosses, Carol Gasson took the plunge the other day when, in a burst of indignation, she responded to an article I had just published online titled “Samworth Brothers: the Company Committed to Exploitation.” Using the pseudonym “justanotherworker,” Carol accused me of “scaremongering the workers” for daring to say that Samworth employees might benefit by joining the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.
To state her factually shoddy case about the amazing benefits offered to all Samworth workers, Carol then engaged in her own nonsensical scaremongering, adding: “Unions just want to make money from joiners. What happens if a union gets in, the family may close the doors. Have that in your thoughts when thousands of long serving people lose their jobs.”
In further comments she elaborated: “No one needs unions. They play on people’s ignorance.”
Somewhat shocked at this attack on working-class history I responded:
“You say unions play on people’s ignorance, but it seems to me that you are the ignorant one. Just to take one example, have you any idea of the role that unions have played in struggling for, and winning equal pay for women? I would be interested to hear what you made of the recent film Made In Dagenham (2010)?”
Here I will leave the last word to the Ian Hodson, the National President of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, who surmised in the unions Foodworker magazine (Autumn 2015):
“As the report ‘The Union Effect‘ shows, Union Health and Safety Representatives save hundreds of lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries and illnesses. Workplaces with union representatives and a joint safety committee have half the serious injury rate of those without.”
Elsewhere Ian Hodson also explained:
“If you look at any major milestone and achievement in the world of work and social justice, you will find the influence of Trade Unions. Indeed, had it not been for the work of the BFAWU, bakery workers would still be toiling away in poorly-vented cellars, lined with asbestos. It’s amazing therefore, that Unions, their members and leaders are viewed with such negativity, given the role they continue to play in our society.
“Falling Trade Union membership has had a negative impact on collective bargaining that has inevitably led to low pay and exploitation within the labour market. As a result of this inequality, we have now a rise in the number of billionaires and an unfair distribution of wealth, not seen since the Victorian era.
“We see wages so low that the taxpayer has to top up the low incomes via tax credits. The fact that the taxpayer is subsidising the profits of big, often tax-avoiding companies and the huge pay packets of company CEOs, should be treated as one of the major scandals and injustices of our times.”