Keith Vaz MP met with Alex Knight, chief executive of Samworth Brothers, to discuss “grave concerns” about the food manufacturer’s wage proposals.

Staff at Samworth Brothers, which has nine sites in Leicestershire, received a letter last month from management informing them of cuts to “premium and overtime payments”. Samworth is the biggest savoury pastry producer in the UK and owner of bakery brands Ginsters, Tamar Foods, Walker & Son and Kensey Foods.

According to employees, the proposals will result in cuts to the rate of pay on Sundays and bank holidays from double-time to time-and-a-half, a reduction in night-shift supplements and the abolition of paid breaks. By 2018, all overtime will be abolished, they say.

One employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We are going to lose a lot of money. It’s going to be drastically different for people who work at the weekend and on night shifts, but the company is not listening to us.”

Vaz invited Knight, chief executive of Samworth, to parliament to discuss issues raised by his constituents (in Leicester East) regarding the salary consultation, which some believe will adversely affect them.

Grave concerns

He said: “I am extremely grateful that Mr Knight came to discuss this in person, which shows that the company is prepared to meet, discuss and take this matter seriously. I told Alex about my grave concerns that some Samworth Brothers employees would be significantly disadvantaged as a result of the new contract.

“He assured me that the consultation with employees about contract changes is continuing and that his ‘door is always open’. Samworth wants to come to an agreement that suits both their employees and the business as a whole.”

Vaz said he would continue to monitor the issue closely, and would look forward to hearing the result of the consultation. 

Last November, Lindsey Pownall, the chief executive of Samworth Brothers, decided to step down from the top job at the food group.