Leicester MP rounds on Samworth

Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, has demanded that Ginsters' manufacturer Samworth Brothers scrap their newly-imposed contracts, as they are accused of “systematic bullying”.

In her constituency yesterday evening (28 April) Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, said: “I am angry beyond belief.”

The comment was made in a meeting called to discuss Samworth Brother’s recent changes to pay and related changes to employee contracts.

Last week, Samworth Brothers remained embroiled in controversy surrounding alleged cuts to pay and conditions, which have been made in a bid to offset the impact of the National Living Wage (NLW). 

Samworth employs more than 5,000 people across Leicestershire and, as heard in yesterday’s meeting, workers are demanding the right to organise and negotiate collectively within the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).

Not all of the hundred-odd workers who attended the meeting were able to speak, but “systematic bullying” was a recurring phrase, according to George Atwall of the BFAWU.

Kendall said it was “one of the busiest meetings she has ever organised.”

She added: “It is completely clear to me that the company is trying to avoid paying you what you are owed, because they are trying to claw back money because of the increase in the minimum wage.”

“They are trying to confuse people, they are trying to bully people, and when I see them tomorrow (29 April) I will make this completely clear to them. I will also do everything I can within Parliament and the media because some of these companies have changed their minds because there has been big stuff about them in the press, and that is one way they could be shamed into changing their minds.

“I also want to see them recognise the trade union, because the only way they can make these changes, by picking you off one by one, is because they don’t recognise collective bargaining, and we are stronger when we stand together, and I am angry beyond belief!”

Workers told Kendall that they were often prevented from using the toilet, which Kendall observed was “disgusting and ridiculous”.

Another individual told Kendall that up to three times a week his manager had been pressing him to sign up to the company’s new contract, and was told that if he didn’t sign up he would lose his job.

Kendall is meeting with Alex Knight, group chief executive of Samworth, today (29 April), and said of that meeting: “I know what will happen, they will say you are all getting a pay rise. I am clear that what is happening is unfair and wrong. My end goal is for them to withdraw that contract and to recognise the union.”

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