Trade unions like the Bakers Union (BFAWU) exist to defend and extend the rights of workers. Bosses prefer it when they are organised and their workers are disorganised; this is precisely why they get upset at unions.
As far as the bosses are concerned, managing (or ignoring) workers concerns on a one-to-one basis is much easier than dealing with a united workforce demanding fairer working conditions for all.
Of course unions can always help workers on an individual basis, but they are most effective at improving pay and working conditions for all workers when they have the right to engage in collective bargaining agreements with employers.
This is precisely why Samworth Brothers, one of Leicestershire’s biggest food manufacturing companies, is trying to bully their employees at Kettleby Foods into backing-down from their perfectly reasonable demands for collective bargaining rights.
Having just unfairly dismissed Kumaran Bose, the one worker who helped recruit more than 50% of his fellow factory workers to the Bakers Union, Samworth management have now stepped up the intimidation of their employees.
Workers are presently having to sit through management briefings where they are told that whilst it is their democratic right to join a union, to do so would be to act against the best interests of their employer by acting to “drive a wedge” between management and workers.
In a further disgusting and bullying attack on workers, template letters are now being circulated by shop floor bosses to persuade suspected union members to leave the Bakers Union. The form encourages employees to fill in the blank spaces on the letter, detailing when they joined the union, when they plan to leave the union, and to put their signature to statement that says they “do not wish for the BFAWU to be recognised at Kettleby Foods for the purposes of collective bargaining.”
This intimidation is being further supplemented by a company petition, circulated by floor managers, calling for workers to disown the Bakers Union.
In a serious display of contempt for their employees, the petition has the names of all workers printed on it already and workers are then asked by their line managers to sign it. If the workers don’t sign the first time, they are asked a second time at a later date, and then a third time. If they still don’t want to sign, they are invited into the manager’s office to sign the petition!
Clearly under such dire circumstances the polite requests of the Bakers Union for trade union recognition are falling on deaf ears as far as the Samworth Brothers management are concerned.
In a bid to encourage the management to engage with their employees in a more democratic fashion, the Bakers Union has been forced to take its campaign to the streets to try to bring public pressure to bear upon this decidedly anti-union company.
So on Saturday (July 30) a protest is being held in Leicester outside of Marks and Spencer (on Humberstone Gate from 2pm) to encourage the public to boycott products sold there that are produced by Samworth Brothers.
The union would, as ever, prefer to simply engage in civil negotiations with Samworth bosses to stop them from bullying workers, but as they evidently won’t stop, in this instance the union is correctly using a public protest and boycott in order to do their best to encourage Samworth bosses to be reasonable with their workers.