In April, Samworth found itselfatthe centre of a row about pay and conditions, allegedly made to off-set the National Living Wage, after Channel Four news claimed it had seen company documents concerning the cuts.
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which was not recognised by Samworth Brothers, claimed the proposed changes would leave staff worse off. Earlier this month the company said it had consulted with staff and was pleased to confirm it had agreed a “more balanced and equitable pay structure”.
The Samworth Brothers boss told the Leicester Mercury: “Every year for decades, Samworth has carried out a staff survey and about two years ago we saw the first signs of feedback from the staff that said there was concern about the difference between staff at hourly rates and the various premium rates that existed.
“So, the following year we asked staff specifically about the terms and conditions. What we got back, very loud and clear from them, was that the hourly rate was very good, but some of the premiums, in their eyes, were excessive relative to the hourly rate.”
However, on Sunday June 26 the BFAWU staged a protest about the proposals which took place at the Samworth Brothers’ factory in Melton Mowbray.
The union also alleged that Kumaran Bose, a team leader at the company’s ready mealsoperation, Kettleby Foods had been unfairly dismissed for speaking out over the plans.
Equitable pay system
Knight said that someone working a premium shift at the weekend could be earning three times as much as someone doing a shift during the week.
He told the local newspaper the feedback from the workforce was that it would be fairer to devise a balanced, equitable pay system.
“Relative to everywhere else, yes our hourly rates were very good, but actually they weren’t at the very top and some of the premiums were very, very high.
“So we said, let’s put together a piece of work which tries to balance out that significant gap. The idea was that everyone would end up with more of an equilibrium,” he told the local newspaper.
Read the full interview here.