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Thursday 9th
posted by Luke James in Britain

Long-serving employee of Tory donors is pushed out after reporting efforts to undermine minimum wage – and another union rep’s job is also threatened

A COMPANY owned by a family of millionaire Tory donors has sacked a whistleblowing worker who exposed its efforts to dodge paying the new “National Living Wage.”

Samworth Brothers, which made pre-tax profits of £41.7 million last year, is at the centre of a scandal in which companies have reacted to the introduction of the higher minimum wage on April 1 by cutting workers’ terms and conditions.

The food giant, which supplies products such as Ginsters cornish pasties to major supermarkets, has slashed overtime, night shift and Sunday rates — even cancellingpaid tea breaks.

The penny-pinching antics have seen Samworth Brothers named and shamed in Parliament and on Channel 4’s investigative Dispatches programme, which will broadcast an exposé of the company’s practices next week.

Now bosses of the Leicester-based company have dismissed a trade union representative at their Bradgate Bakery who spoke out against contract changes which will actively cut workers’ income — even factoring in the minimum wage rise.

Kumaran Bose, a dedicated employee of 12 years, faced “severe bullying” from managers after speaking out publicly against the cuts, according to the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) union.

Regional organiser George Atwall said: “What his managers particularly disliked was his brave decision to stand up for his rights and refuse to accept that he and his fellow workers should be treated so appallingly.”

Incredibly, when Mr Bose complained to the company, he was first put through a disciplinary and then fired from his job as a team leader at Kettleby Foods on Friday.

Mr Atwall said the company had accused Mr Bose of giving details of a “confidential” letter to employees detailing the contract changes to local media.

He told the Star: “If you’re going to serve members with a consultation letter that could lead to them losing £2,000-3,000 they’re are not just going to sit there.

“It was his democratic right to speak out and seek advice from his trade union. He’s a whistleblower.”

The Star understands that another union representative is being dragged through disciplinary proceedings and also could face the sack.

Local Labour MP Liz Kendall, who met workers recently, told the Star that staff had been “bullied into signing the new contract.

“It is deeply troubling to hear that the company may now be taking action against those who have spoken out on the issue,” she said.

“Staff are understandably angry. At a time when many people are already struggling, it is wrong that Samworth Brothers is cutting the annual salaries on which workers’ mortgages and bills depend.”

Ms Kendall has called for the company to reverse pay cuts and recognise BFAWU as the staff union.

The Star asked Samworth Brothers whether Mr Bose was sacked in connection to his trade union activity, but they refused to comment.

A company spokeswoman did however rule out voluntary recognising union however, saying: “We already have a very successful staff consultative structure that has worked very well for many years.”

BFAWU is seeking recognition from the Central Arbitration Service and plans to launch a major campaign to reinstate Mr Bose, including pickets of stores which stock Samworth products.

Company president Sir David Samworth, who is worth more than £400 million, was revealed as a major Tory donor when the party released details of its funders in 1999.

The fox-hunting fanatic recently established the Samworth Enterprise Academy, rated inadequate by Ofsted last year.

His son Mark has donated £685,000 to the Tories since 2010, including £100,000 before last year’s general election.

He was wined and dined by top Tory ministers at a donors dinner earlier this year.