Samworth Brothers workers protest sacking of union activist

Mike Thompson reports

Photo: Mike Thompson

Photo: Mike Thompson

Around 100 local trade unionists attended a protest at Samworth Brothers in Melton Mowbray on Sunday 26 June. The protest was called by the bakers union BFAWU over the dismissal of union activist Kumaran Bose by the Tory funding Samworth Brothers.

After the government introduction of the ‘living wage’ Samworth Brothers sought to change contracts so that the workforce would end up carrying the cost of the increase themselves. Samworths – which made a profit of £41.7 million last year – have looked to force through changes to contracts that have included cutting the rates for unsocial hours and overtime payments. The workers responded by attending a number of public meetings organized by BFAWU when the restructure was first announced.

Kumaran, who had a unblemished 12 year employment record, was recruiting colleagues at Samworths who opposed the imposition of a new contract – and over half the workers at his plant joined the union. It was after he put in a grievance against his management that Kumaran was suspended, pending a disciplinary for “bullying management”. This is the same management that has refused to give BFAWU voluntary recognition – despite the majority of the workforce having joined the union.

Samworth Brothers, who are owners of Ginsters, and major suppliers of sandwiches and other good to Tesco amongst others. This is a clear attack on trade union rights – where management have sacked a union organiser in the hope it will decapitate the movement. It is vital that there is support from across the movement. It was good to see solidarity from local trades councils, and other unions including Unite, PCS, GMB and NUT. There are moves to have boycotts of the firm’s produce and to ensure a high profile campaign keeps the pressure on to show workers at Samworth that by joining the union they will get solidarity and support needed to win against their bosses.

The full list of Samworth companies: Blueberry Foods Bradgate Bakery Brooksby Foods Dickinson & Morris Gingsters Kensey Foods Kettleby Foods Melton Foods Saladworks Sci mx nutrition Soreen Tamarfoods Walkers Pies, Deli, Sausage Own brand of similar products to the ones produced by the companies shown above and sold by Tesco, M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury and Morrisons are likely to be produced by Samworth and should also be boycotted.

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