In a statement issued this afternoon (November 5), a spokesman for the chilled food manufacturer said: “Bakkavor Group is aware of an issue, recently highlighted by the GMB union, regarding compliance with the Working Time Directive (WTD) at its site in Harrow.
“Bakkavor is continuing to work with employees and GMB union officials to take all appropriate corrective steps to ensure that it complies with the Directive. Bakkavor remains wholly committed to the health and safety of its employees through compliance with all health and safety legislation and best practice employment policy.”
Breaches of regulations
Bakkavor was responding to a statement from the GMB alleging Bakkavor had committed 647 breaches of EU WTD regulations at the site between the beginning of July and the end of September.
These were occasions when workers were not taking the required 11 hour rest between shifts, it said. It claimed the management team at the site were aware of the issue, but had not implemented an action plan, as promised.
GMB senior organiser Tony Warr warned that forcing staff to work too many hours could make them tired and more prone to mistakes and accidents.
“Bakkavor know that excessive working hours are dangerous. The rail disaster in Clapham Junction in 1988, in which 35 people died and 500 were injured, was caused by a technician who had worked a seven hour week for the past 13 weeks,” said Warr.
He pointed to several instances brought to his attention of employees working hours that were too long. “Only this week I have been informed of workers finishing their shift to return and clock on again three hours later.
“In another case, a worker completed their shift, worked eight hours overtime and then had only four hours off before commencing work again. This is a very profitable business so they can easily afford to employ sufficient people to monitor the working time of the workers.”
The GMB is pressing Bakkavor for full disclosure of its employee working hour records.