As events this year have shown, Samworth Brothers are far from model employers. Samworth’s pie-munching bosses are still unwilling to treat their workers as equals despite consistently high profits – although they are happy to bribe them with a day out at the races (Leicester Racecourse to be precise).
When staff at Samworth’s started joining the Bakers Union, the selfish bosses turned to bullying tactics against their workers, which eventually led to the controversial dismissal of the main union activist at their Kettleby site, Kumaran Bose.
Nevertheless, in a vain attempt to try to stop their workers demanding union recognition in their factories, the cynical bosses at Samworth have felt forced to throw a few concessions at their employees.
Here, a famous analogy comes to mind that was made by one of the greatest authors of all time, Leo Tolstoy, which perfectly summarises the relationship between Samworth bosses and their employees who must daily carry their management forward to their riches.
“I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means-except by getting off his back.”
Certainly it is about time that management got off the backs of their workers, or at the very least stopped bullying them and let them engage in collective negotiations with them. But this voluntary action seems unlikely to happen any day soon.
Not so long ago, in April, at a packed public meeting (held at the Tudor Centre in Mowmacre Hill), local Labour MP Liz Kendall angrily explained to Samworth workers that: “It is completely clear to me, that the company is trying to avoid paying you what you are owed, because they are trying to claw back money because of the increase in the minimum wage.”
Workers told Kendall how they were often prevented from using the toilet, which she correctly observed was “disgusting and ridiculous”. “They are trying to confuse people, they are trying to bully people,” she continued, noting that the only way to resolve these problem was to ensure that Samworth voluntarily engaged in a collective bargaining agreement with the Bakers Union.
She then concluded with a firm, but essentially meaningless commitment: “I will also do everything I can within Parliament and the media” to try to get the management at Samworth to change their minds. I say meaningless because it seems that Kendall is not willing to do everything she can to help Samworth workers. Her unwillingless to do everything possible to help the workers is demonstrated by the fact that she has failed to sign a Parliamentary Early Day Motion to oppose both the bullying and the sacking of Kumaran Bose.
The motion in question was first tabled in Parliament on July 7, and sadly only one of our city’s three Labour MPs has bothered to sign it — that single individual being the Labour MP for Leicester South, Jon Ashworth. The motion reads:
“That this House condemns the dismissal of Kumaran Bose from the Kettleby Foods site in Leicester owned by Samworth Brothers, despite an unblemished 12 year record of employment for the company, on spurious allegations of bullying his managers; believes that Mr Bose’s dismissal is an act of victimisation against a trade union activist for raising concerns about reductions in overtime, premium and weekend payments following the introduction of the national living wage; notes that the company’s director Mark Samworth has donated well over half a million pounds to the Conservative Party since 2010; further notes that the company has refused a voluntary recognition agreement with the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union, instead imposing its own hand-picked staff consultative committee to represent the interests of its workers; considers that, notwithstanding the company’s denials, the dismissal of Mr Bose fits a wider pattern of victimisation of trade unionists working for Samworth Brothers; and calls for the immediate reinstatement of Mr Bose, an end to the victimisation of other trade union activists, and for the company to agree to recognise the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.” (EDM 295)
Yet thankfully, there is still time for Liz Kendall and Keith Vaz to show their strong support for Samworth employees. But it might take public pressure to persuade them to do the right thing.
So if either Liz Kendall or Keith are your local MP, then why not drop them an email and ask them to do their bit by signing this important Early Day Motion.
- Email Liz Kendall (Leicester West) at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Keith Vaz (Leicester East) at email@example.com