On June 26, 2016, a protest was held outside the Samworth Brothers headquarters in Melton Mowbray to demand the reinstatement of unfairly sacked Bakers’ Union member Kumaran Bose.
Ronnie Draper, the General Secretary of the Bakers Union, made it clear that unless Kumaran was reinstated, his union would be forced to escalate their campaign to involve a boycott of Samworth’s products. (To date Kumaran has still not heard back from Samworth management about the result of his official appeal.) Speaking at the protest Ronnie explained:
“Companies like [Samworth Brothers], are allowed by the government to jump on a passing bandwagon that they calling the living wage, but which we call the joke living wage, and allow them to claw that money back. That is absolutely disgraceful considering the abysmal wages these people were paid right from the start. First of all we have to take the campaign to make sure, not only that Kumaran is reinstated, but that people are repaid the money that the company is trying to take away from them.
“Kumaran is not a troublemaker. He is a guy who had the courage of his convictions to stand up against an oppressive employer, and this company is nothing but an oppressive employer. They [Samworth] are seeking to deny trade union recognition in the face of 50% and above of the people in here in the union already, and that is something that is going to continue to grow, and I hope that you will help us along that journey.
“As I say, he is a decent bloke who has just fought for fairness. Trumped up charges, and all that we can say they are, and we have got our lawyers working on it now at the moment. If this guy was a bully, if he was a bully they would have found out. It wouldn’t have taken them twelve years with an impeccable record not in a union, and then all of a sudden he joins a union and starts speaking up for people to find out that he’s a troublemaker, or he’s a bully or whatever. So we disregard the charges that have been made against him, and we will do everything that we can do in our power as a trade union to help him. I hope we make the Candy Unwin protest look like small-fry we the things we are going to do.
“We’ve got global support, I’ve got a letter from Frances O’Grady [General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress], Ron Oswald, who is the General Secretary of the International Union of Foodworkers, Doug Nicholls, who is the General Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions, and all the unions who are present at the Trade Union Coordinating Group last week. All those people send messages of support for Kumaran.
“But we can do stuff as well. We can put down Early Day Motions (EDM), and we have an MP speaking later on, Richard Burgon. So get your MP to support that EDM when it comes and make sure it delivers.
“I want to finish off by saying that the worst thing that a private company like, I should say hates, is they hate their brand being affected. And if we have to escalate this, then the next thing we have to do is find out every product that this company makes – right across all its factories – and then we take this information out into the community. We tell people, and we tell trade union members that we boycott [Samworth Brothers] until these people reinstate Kumaran Bose.
“You as individuals can write to the company, write to Paul Davey by all means, but go on their complaints line – exactly the same as we did at Hovis in Wigan. Tell the company that unless they reinstate Kumaran, then we are not going to buy your products — and that will stop your profits, you won’t be able to donate to the Tory party anymore.”