Speaking to graduates at the University of Leicester in 2012, Sir David Samworth lectured a bored-looking audience (watch the youtube video here):
“You might consider [a career] in manufacturing, and I realise in doing so William Blake’s image of two hundred years ago of dark satanic mills might spring to mind. But more importantly than this, before you consider any career, if you are to make a success of it you must first of all think about your own personal ethos and values. Where do you stand on the important issues of life, honesty, integrity, the importance of people of any race or creed, and putting the care of others before yourselves?”
These are, of course, all very important issues. Certainly there are some people and some groups within society who come down on the wrong side of history on many of these “important issues of life.” Indeed, Samworth Brothers Personnel Manager (Carol Gasson) explained (just last year), some groups “just want to make money from” other people’s hard work. She stated: “Sir David will not speak” to such groups who “play on people’s ignorance” — this apparently providing proof of his honesty and integrity.
But turning history upon its head, the groups Carol was actually referring to were trade unions such as the Bakers Union, who she has portrayed as money-grabbing profit seekers only seeking to promote their own interests at the expense of their members.
Carol seemed blissfully ignorant of the fact that the legal obligation of all capitalist businesses, like Samworth, is simply to make a profit for their owners which is done by paying workers only a tiny portion of the total profits that they generate though their hard labour. This helps explain why as Samworth’s profits rise and the company grows, workers are impelled to work harder and faster without seeing their wages increase at anywhere near a fair rate.
Contrary to what Samworth’s Personnel Manager believes, it was precisely by workers banding together in trade unions that the slave-like working conditions of the satanic mills of the past were brought to an end. Some ignorant bosses are however evidently stuck in the dark ages and still consider that their ‘wage slaves’ should not have the democratic right to collective bargaining within the trade union of their choice. As the Secretary of the Leicester and District Trades Union Council recently put it:
“There is no doubt that in the mentality of the modern bad employer, workers really do appear to be viewed in their previous forms of servant, peasant, serf or slave — Samworth Brothers may consider me a bit harsh if I link them to my last comment, but we have to judge employers by their actions and not on how philanthropic they might want to appear by their ‘generous’ gifts to the community. The granting of alms to the lower classes was often the sign of the guilty conscience of the rich baron who did not want to meet his maker with his sins unrepented… [Samworth’s bosses] are true Tories, always looking after number one and damn the rest.”