Showing their total disregard for their employees, local bullyboy employer Samworth Brothers (of Ginsters pie fame), attack the pay and conditions of their workers on the one hand, while simultaneously rejecting an appeal by the majority of their staff at Kettleby Foods to be represented in collective negotiations by their union of choice, the Bakers Union.
The Samworth bosses, in their frantic determination to undermine the swelling tide of union activity in their factories will seemingly resort to any tactic – no matter how counterproductive – to quell what they see as the threat of an organised workforce.
Samworth management are doing what all bullies do best, they are attempting frighten their workers into submission by singling out for punishment those individuals who stand up to their authoritarian ways.
Disgustingly, this bullying has now resulted in Kumaran Bose, one of Kettleby’s leading union organisers being sacked — although of course he still has a right of appeal.
Recall for a moment the disturbing words of Samworth’s Personnel Manager at Kettleby Foods (Carol Gasson) who, in February earlier this year, accused me of “scaremongering the workers” for daring to say that their employees might benefit by joining a union. Displaying her own monumental ignorance of democracy and workers’ rights, she wrote: “No one needs unions. They play on people’s ignorance.”
This brings me back to Kumaran Bose, who having worked for the Samworth Brothers for more than a decade — without I might add being disciplined in any way, shape, or form – recently found himself subject to intimidation from his management. In response Mr Bose did what any worker should do, and in March 2016 he submitted a formal grievance to his employers.
Having none of this, shortly thereafter the spiteful management at Samworth Brothers launched their own disciplinary actions against Mr Bose; and if this malicious action alone doesn’t provide a good enough reason for Samworth workers’ to demand that their bosses recognise their union, I don’t know what would!
Samworth Brothers are acting as exemplars of bullying; whereby workplace bullying is “defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour, abuse of power or authority which attempts to undermine an individual or group of employees and which may cause them to suffer stress.”
- competent staff being constantly criticised, having responsibilities removed or being given trivial tasks to do
- shouting at staff
- persistently picking on people in front of others or in private
- blocking promotion
- regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities
- setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines
- consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal standing
- regularly making the same person the butt of jokes.
None of these behaviours are acceptable in any democratic workplace. But it seems perfectly apparent that the bosses at Samworth Brothers are opposed to unions precisely because they realise that a unionised workforce is better able to act to prevent such forms of all-to-common workplace bullying.
As the aforementioned anti-democratic comments made by Samworth Brother’s Personal Manager make clear: Samworth’s management choose to ignore demands for union recognition because they are well acquainted with the fact that there is a direct link between organised workplaces and fairer treatment of workers.
For example, as numerous studies have shown, there can be no doubt that the collective strength of trade union negotiation means that (on average) union members:
- take home higher pay
- have better sickness and pension benefits
- have more holiday
- and have more flexible working hours.
It is for these reasons and many more that all the workers employed by the Samworth Brothers should stand united against all forms of bullying; should demand the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose; and finally, should demand that their bosses recognise their democratic right to engage in collective negotiations through the Bakers Union.