Sir David Samworth: The Family Man and His Nightmares About Organised Workers

Earlier this year, the Leicester Mercury (April 22) reported that Sir David Samworth and his family, who own Melton pork pie and pastie maker Samworth Brothers, saw the value of their personal fortune rise “by £10million to £455 million.”

At the ripe old age of 81, David retired from active duties at the head of his family business eleven years ago and is now a life president at Samworth Brothers, but his strong opposition to unions remains. Just yesterday, proof of David’s anti-union legacy at Samworth Brothers was illustrated by the sacking of Kumaran Bose, one of the leading trade union members at Samworth. This announcement coming after a long and needlessly drawn-out process which finally saw Kumaran’s appeal against his dismissal rejected by Samworth bosses on Friday.

After 12 years of unblemished service to Samworth, Kumaran was targeted for dismissal earlier this year, soon after he took the decision to join the Bakers Union and then — this is the part management really hated — he recruited most of the workers at his factory to his union.

Unfortunately there can be no question that the climate of bullying presently dominating life at Samworth Brothers’ sites concerns workers, but it is also clear that the only way for these workers to improve their working conditions will be if they succeed in gaining union recognition and collective bargaining rights in their workplace.

An official ballot for union recognition is due to go ahead at the end of August, but management at Samworth Brothers are using every dirty trick in the book to try to scare workers out of voting for union recognition.

Collective bargaining

For Sir David Samworth having to deal with trade unions in his factories has always been his worst nightmare. This is why David spent the best part of his life helping finance the Conservative Party in order to undermine the ability of normal workers and trade unions to contribute towards the democratic running of British society.

David’s bankrolling of the Conservative’s was, for many years, carried out through his membership of the Midlands Industrial Council (MIC), and his membership of this exclusive club was only revealed to the public as late as 2006.

In a special report published in The Sunday Times (October 15, 2006),titled “Tories forced to name club of millionaire supporters,” Sir David Samworth’s name surfaced “after a confidential list” of the 22 members of this secretive Council was leaked to the newspaper. Some years earlier, the political nature of these regional Council’s was described by an investigative article in the Financial Times which explained:

“The councils are a curious hybrid of gentleman’s clubs and money-raising agencies. They are the focal points in a secretive network of several hundred Tory-supporting business leaders, drawn from all strands of industry but with an accent on individualistic, wealthy entrepreneurs who identify with the free enterprise cause.” (Conservative Party funding – Gentlemen’s clubs where money is on tap,” December 19, 1994)

Tory businessman of course always prefer to employ highly-trained, well-paid HR professionals to negotiate pay and conditions with workers on a so-called one-to-one basis, that is, allowing Samworth’s well organised team of managers to ‘negotiate’ with individual workers in their boardrooms .

The major imbalance of power between the bosses and workers engaged in such talks is hardly a fair way of carrying out meaningful discussions, as management always have the ultimate power to discipline individual workers who challenge management’s priorities.

The importance of collective bargaining is that instead of workplace rules being determined fairly unilaterally by either managers, they are instead determined via negotiations between two parties with broadly equal bargaining power.

This is but one reason why it is so critical that workers have the right to negotiate collectively with the aid of a trade union.

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