Samworth Brothers’ Bosses Must Support Rights of Key Food Workers

On August 4, Leicestershire’s director of public health Mike Sandys participated in an informative question and answer session undertaken with the local press – an interview which was then distilled into a Leicester Mercury article entitled “Leicestershire public health boss gives update on the coronavirus situation across the county.” In the course of this discussion Sandys was asked what he thought was responsible for the rise in cases in Melton? He answered that it was…

“…more than likely through a workplace, and then the workplace case has then gone and brought it back to the house, and then that’s gone and infected people within the household. So, its always difficult to say definitively what’s caused it but what you are looking at, you know, travel to work, something happening within the workplace and then going back to the household, and so I think it is very important then that we stop it there before it gets into broader community transmission within Melton Mowbray, within the broader Melton borough council area and indeed within Leicestershire.”

Indeed, this latest outbreak does seem to be connected to a large food processing factory in Melton that is run by the staunchly anti-union multi-millionaire bosses at Samworth Brothers. However, while the public health director was clear that the rise was most likely due to workplace transmission the Samworth bosses tried to blame community transmission saying that the recent cases arising at their factory were “related to community transmission rather than the workplace.” (“Samworth Brothers food factory in Melton confirms coronavirus cases,” Mercury, August 4)

In their weak defence the Samworth spokesperson added “As one would expect we have very comprehensive Covid-secure measures in place.” A point which was partially echoed by Sandys who noted that he was “happier” to work with bigger firms (like Samworth) than with smaller firms like found in the textile industry in Leicester because the bigger firms “do take the necessary precautions and they do at least show when there are cases in their workplace they do expose them.”

But as workers explained at the start of the pandemic, Samworth was by no means a model employer before this pandemic nor during it especially when it came to protecting the safety of our country’s key workers. In fact even after the lockdown was first imposted Samworth bosses refused in enact covid-secure operating practices as documented in this article written in early April (see link).

What the public and the workers really need to protect everyone’s safety is for the bosses at Samworth to stop opposing the right of their employees to be represented collectively by a trade union. Then Samworth bosses must allow trained  representatives from the trade union to confirm for themselves that the working practices at all Samworth sites are covid-secure. We can’t simply take the bosses word for it, especially considering their long track record of bullying their own workers.

What we do know is that to this day Samworth still employ hundreds of agency workers at their factories, these being workers who are forced to live off statutory sick pay of just £95 a week if they have to self-isolate. This is why the Bakers Union continue to raise the demand that all Samworth workers should be entitled to full sick pay for the duration of any period of self-isolation. Until the Samworth bosses make even this minimal concession, we know for sure that their sites are a threat to both workers and our communities.

Samworth melton

Speech by intensive care nurse, trade unionist and Socialist Alternative member Jac Berry about why nurses need a pay rise.

Join the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union online today! http://www.bfawu.org/join BFAWU is a campaigning trade union. Its job is to get the best deal for BFAWU members at work and is committed to building a strong organisation in every BFAWU workplace an so help make every workplace safer. Whoever you are, wherever you work: joining BFAWU is the right decision.

  • George Atwall (Full Time Officer) – 07739 326009 – george.atwall@bfawu.org
  • Dimitru Manole {ROMANIAN REPRESENTATIVE} – 07816 210730
  • Florentina Pasisnic {ROMANIAN REPRESENTATIVE} – 07459 868508 – florentinapasisnic1970@gmail.com
  • Jit Singh (Full Time Officer) – 07739 326012 – Jit.singh@bfawu.org
  • Lukasz Bemka (Full Time Officer) – 07912 760261 – lukasz.bemka@bfawu.org
  • Adrianna Kara {POLISH REPRESENTATIVE} – 07847 610534 – adrianna.kara3791@gmail.com
  • Lyudmila Malu {RUSSIAN AND LATVIAN REPRESENTATIVE} – 07411 127253

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