Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14719

Posted on 18 June 2012 at 16:35 GMT

BFAWU picket line at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, 18.6.12, photo Steve Score

BFAWU picket line at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, 18.6.12, photo Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

Five hundred food processing workers strike in Leicester

Michael Barker

Today 500 workers at RF Brookes factory in Leicester took their third day of concerted strike action to oppose the unjust policies imposed on them by their profit hungry management.

Attacks on the workers at this food processing factory in South Wigston typify capitalist attempts to squeeze every last drop of profit from otherwise successful businesses by punishing their employees.

BFAWU picket line at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, 18.6.12, photo by Steve Score

BFAWU picket line at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, 18.6.12, photo by Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

Until late last year the Leicester factory had been owned by chilled food behemoth, Premier Foods, a company that in its bid to increase short-term profits for shareholders, readily disposed of 200 workers in September 2011.

After a successful takeover bid by Ranjit "Chicken King" Boparan, the factory is now in the process of being ransacked by Boparan and his wife's Birmingham-based company, 2 Sisters Food Group. A destructive course of action that is no anomaly for the Boparans, as they acted similarly when they took a controlling stake in Northern Foods last year.

At present a further 193 staff at RF Brookes are being coerced into redundancy. But this time round, thanks to the Boparans' entrepreneurial wizardry, redundancy payoffs are less than half what they were under Premier Foods' regime.

This was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, and has seen Boparan's hardworking employees now threatening to break the Chicken King's back: letting him know that his much touted efforts to create a 3.5 billion global food empire will not be built upon the devastation of their communities.

BFAWU national president, Ian Hodson, speaking to picketers at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, photo by Steve Score

BFAWU national president, Ian Hodson, speaking to picketers at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, photo by Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

With a strong, enthusiastic picket line made up of hundreds of workers - many having spent decades at the factory and never before considered it necessary to take strike action - the fightback against the job-slashing Chicken King is now in full force.

Tony Lewis, from the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which was called on by its members to support this strike, said:

"Basically this is about stopping the race to the bottom by food manufacturers, who in their quest to maximise profits, are driving workers' pay and conditions down.

"We need all socialists and progressives to continue with the campaign nationally to fight this trend."

Tony added that the workers will continue striking for two days every week until mid-July, by when they hope to have obtained support from other workers.

Indeed, union representatives at their sister plant in Rogerstone Park, in south Wales, are currently having discussions with their management which could lead to further industrial action against the 2 Sisters Food Group.

2 Sisters is not alone in this race to the bottom; Marks & Spencer, that currently serves as the sole recipient of RF Brookes' food produce, is likewise cutting production costs by locating cheaper suppliers.

This of course equates to a search for food suppliers with a low-paid, non-unionised workforce, be they domestic or foreign.

BFAWU national president, Ian Hodson, speaking to picketers at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, photo by Steve Score

BFAWU national president, Ian Hodson, speaking to picketers at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, photo by Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

Evidently Boparan and his family's food conglomerate have set their goals high, and aim to become the main supplier for the British chilled food industry. But to do this they have determined that they must continue their attacks against the very source of their profits, their workers.

The solution to this steadfast attack on workers is therefore, as Tony Lewis clearly states, for workers to unite! And along these lines, workers and union officials from across the country have already sent messages of support to their RF Brookes' comrades.

For instance, from Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union:

"PCS stands fully behind BFAWU members in their dispute over redundancy pay. These workers are the real wealth creators and the action of RF Brookes' management is disrespectful to their workforce.

"At a time of high unemployment and economic stagnation, it is vital that employers are deterred from laying off staff, and that those who are made redundant are compensated fairly".

Both national and international solidarity are essential in this time of open class warfare, waged fiercely upon the poor by the rich.

With renewed energy, workers are defending their class interests, and they are demanding that their unions support them.

Placards on BFAWU picket line at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, photo by Steve Score

Placards on BFAWU picket line at RF Brookes bakery in South Wigston, Leicester, photo by Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

.

Please send messages of support to: Tony.lewis@bfawu.org


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 18 June 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Leicester:

triangleLeicester Kashmir protest rejects religious smokescreen

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Capitalists profit as Amazon burns

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Universal Credit - Universal Misery

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Brexit chaos while austerity bites

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Retail Fightback

Strike:

triangleMassive vote for strike action: - "We're out to win!"

triangleNewham sixth form college picket line, 17th October 2019, photo by Scott Jones

triangleHackney SEND transport workers achieve victory

triangleFlooring workers strike, Derbyshire

Food:

triangleKarro Foods victory Hull

triangleHull: Karro Food meat processors strike against poverty pay

triangleDeliveroo workers protest at firm's Nottingham roadshow

Union:

trianglePCS union - A reply on political strategy

trianglePressure needed to force secret police disclosure

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/10/19

Postal workers

Massive vote for strike action: - "We're out to win!"

16/10/19

PCS

General secretary election: Marion Lloyd - standing for action on members' pay, jobs, pensions and more

16/10/19

Socialist Party

Be part of the future: join the Socialist Party

16/10/19

Waltham Forest

Mass union mobilisation needed to counter anti-choice group

16/10/19

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

Pressure needed to force secret police disclosure

16/10/19

Climate change

Trade unionists discuss climate change

16/10/19

National Education Union

NEU support staff dismiss Tory 'extra funding' hype

16/10/19

Hackney

Hackney SEND transport workers achieve victory

16/10/19

RMT

RMT: Jared Wood - Fighting cuts, defending jobs, pay and conditions

16/10/19

Wales

Wales: Hundreds march to save the Orb works

15/10/19

Derbyshire

Flooring workers strike, Derbyshire

9/10/19

Caerphilly

Attacks on Caerphilly waste management workers

9/10/19

PCS

BEIS: Outsourced caterers' indefinite strike victory

9/10/19

York

York freshers success

9/10/19

Leeds

'The little people can win' - Leeds tenants push back demolition

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999