Samworth defends sacking after union backlash

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Samworth Brothers Ltd has defended its decision to sack an employee
Samworth Brothers Ltd has defended its decision to sack an employee

Related tags: Samworth brothers, Wage, Minimum wage

Samworth Brothers Ltd has defended its decision to sack an employee, after the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) slammed the dismissal as “shameful”, claiming the employee was sacked for “naming and shaming” Samworth Brothers over contractual changes.

The employee – Kumaran Bose – was sacked for raising workers’ concerns about contractual changes, alleged BFAWU, following the introduction of the National Living Wage. The union claimed Bose was ultimately sacked for breach of confidentiality.

But, the chilled foods firm denied the claims.

A Samworth Brothers’ spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Mr Bose was dismissed because he sought to influence disciplinary proceedings by posting a video in which he exposed the names of three female members of staff who had made complaints against him.

‘Nothing to do with his union activity’

“An ​[internal] appeal ruled that posting the video was a premeditated decision to influence the investigation and a serious breach of trust. His dismissal had nothing to do with his union activity.”

But the union insisted Bose – who worked at Samworth Brothers for 12 years as a team leader – was sacked for highlighting workers’ concerns. The food manufacturer “decided to dodge the minor pay increase for those over the age of 25 by making their workforce fund it themselves”​ by cutting paid breaks and overtime rates, after the living wage was introduced in April, the union said.

The company said it had no option but to make the changes, claimed BFAWU, forcing staff to meet with union representatives.

But, Samworth Brothers confirmed in June that it was investing an additional £5M in its pay bill, every year for the next three years. Its pay consultation enhanced its employee benefit package with private healthcare and a retail discount scheme, it claimed.

Contractual changes

Meanwhile, the union said that after the contractual changes became public​, the manufacturer blamed Bose for putting it in the spotlight, because he was responsible for drawing the union’s attention to it.

BFAWU national president Ian Hodson said: “It's shameful that a family man can be sacked for highlighting the unfairness of a multi-million pound business cutting its workers’ wages.

Meanwhile, the Low Pay Commission – the body that monitors low pay for the government – said there was no clear evidence of changes in UK employment or working hours since the National Living Wage was introduced.

Samworth Brothers dismissal row – at a glance

  • Union claims member of staff – Kumaran Bose – was sacked for highlighting workers’ concerns and union affiliation
  • Samworth Brothers claims Bose was sacked for entirely different reasons, over different disciplinary proceedings.

Related topics: Chilled foods, People & Skills

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