The Bakers’, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) is organising a day of action in support of Kumaran Bose, who was dismissed for speaking out and for organising a union in his workplace. BFAWU have put out a call for support from the wider labour movement, to put pressure on the company, Kettleby Foods, a division of Samworth Brothers, to reinstate Kumaran.
A protest will be taking place at 12.30pm, Sunday 26th June, at Chetwode House, Melton Mowbray (full address is on the attached leaflet).
The BFAWU statement below explains the nature of the attacks by the management team at Samworth Brothers, on their workforce, especially following the raising of the national minimum wage. PCS Left Unity’s National Committee is asking for all PCS activists and members to consider attending the protest against this vindictive employer. The battle to unionise the un-unionised and to support the most precarious workers is one of the key battles of our generation.
Union Activist Sacked in Fight for Union Recognition at Samworth Brothers
Leicestershire-based food giant Samworth Brothers are the owners of Cornish pasty maker Ginsters, as well as being the largest maker of certified Melton Mowbray pork pies. Last year alone they boasted of pre-tax profits of £41.7 million. However, Samworth Brothers also have a long history of funding the Conservative Party. Little wonder then, that they are a decidedly anti-Union business.
With the introduction of the new living wage last April, Samworth’s bosses have cut paid breaks and have ditched premium rates for working unsocial hours and overtime. Workers responded in their hundreds by joining the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, packing a series of huge public meetings when the ‘restructuring’ was first announced in February.
But in a vicious turn-of-events, Kumaran Bose, one of the leading Union organisers who has done much to speak out against the undemocratic nature of the pay restructuring, was sacked on Friday, June 3rd. Kumaran has worked for the company for twelve years with not so much as a blemish to his name or his work record. Despite this, since the dispute began, he has been subjected to a severe bullying campaign from his managers.
Kumaran’s only crime has been his outstanding success in convincing more than 50% of the workers in his factory to join the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union. What his Managers disliked in particular, was his brave decision to stand up for his rights and refuse to accept that he and his fellow workers should be treated so appallingly, and that their families should be denied a decent standard of living.
In a bizarre twist, when Kumaran lodged a formal grievance against his Samworth Management at Kettleby Foods, the company management team responded by embarking upon a retaliatory disciplinary procedure against him, accusing Kumaran of bullying his employers! Worse still, despite the fact that the majority of people at Kumaran’s factory are members of the Bakers Union, the company still refuse to give the Union a voluntary recognition at the site.
A formal appeal against this decision has now been lodged with the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) and the odds are strongly in favor of the workforce that Samworth’s management team will soon be forced by law to give formal recognition to the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union. Local MPs Jon Ashworth and Liz Kendall have also written to the company in protest at what they are doing.
In the meantime, Kumaran’s managers will no doubt continue to use every trick in the book to block their employees’ request and the right to join a union. Workers at the site have told us that although they are disappointed by the sacking of their workmate, they refuse to be bullied or intimidated and will now redouble their efforts to recruit more members and send a clear message to their Tory funding bosses that they will not take ‘no’ for an answer.
We are calling on all fair minded people to support our call for the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose.
Write to Samworth Brothers bosses at Paul.Davey@Bradgate-Bakery.co.uk and demand the reinstatement of Kumaran Bose.
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Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union
Great North Rd.
Welwyn Garden City