In recent months, hundreds of workers employed by Samworth Brothers across Leicestershire have joined the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). Simply put, they are joining because they would like to have the support of the Bakers Union in their pay negotiations with management.
These mainly low-paid workers correctly believe they have a democratic right to be able to organise in their workplace, and carry out negotiations collectively with the aid of democratically elected trade union representatives.
If Samworth Brothers’ can employ highly-paid trained professionals to manage their relationship with their employees, why shouldn’t workers be able to pool their resources and have trained union officials to help them out?
Of course most workplaces, especially fair ones, recognise the right of their workers to union representation in any negotiations with management over pay and conditions, but not so for the megalomaniacal bosses running Samworth’s factories in the East Midlands, who are refusing to give official recognition to the union.
Needless to say, the bosses’ fear of recognizing unions owes much to their political allegiances: the Samworth family has provided much financial support for the Tories and their violently anti-union politics.
The same bosses are well aware that if enough people join the Bakers union then they will no longer be able to ride roughshod over workers’ rights, just as they are presently doing by forcing new and exploitative contracts upon the very people who slave away to make all their profits.
Samworth’s CEO, Alex Knight, seems particularly concerned with the rapid growth of union membership at the site of Kettelby Foods. So much so that Mr Knight spent his Easter weekend at the site, attempting to persuade (or rather, bullying) workers into signing new contracts, which will see the decimation of premium rates for working unsocial hours.
It is important to point out that Samworth Brothers are not cutting the premium pay of their workers who work in their Cornish factories. Even food companies that have a long track record of treating their workers like rubbish – Two Sisters Food Group, for instance – show no signs of disciplining their workers by reducing double pay on Sundays.
Therefore, in response to the Samworth bosses’ ongoing and unnecessary attacks on employee rights, the Bakers Union is politely requesting that their new members sign their new contracts, whilst making it clear they are doing so under duress by also submitting an official union letter to protest their contractual changes.
A section of the accompanying letter being send to Samworth’s HR team reads:
“I wish to make it clear that whilst I will continue working under the new terms when my notice period expires, I do not accept the change to my terms and conditions which I believe are unfair and unnecessary.
“On this basis I attach a signed copy of the new contract issued to me and agree to continue working under protest and without prejudice to my legal rights and in order to mitigate my losses.
“I also understand that these contractual changes are being imposed on all production staff and so amount to collective dismissals. As such I am concerned that the company have not complied with the duty to consult under s.188A of the Trade Union & Labour Relations consolidation Act 1992…”
Unsurprisingly, the deceitful and manipulative management at Samworth have responded by informing their employees that they won’t be recognising the letters validity, or, for that matter, even accepting them at all. Once again, this demonstrates to all concerned that to get any justice or truth in their workplace all Samworth’s workers will need to join the Bakers Union as quickly as possible.