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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Swindling twizzler

by New Worker correspondent

NOW THAT that mince pies and Christmas puddings are appearing in the shops it’s time to turn to festive matters.

Bernard Matthews, suppliers of turkeys and the infamous Turkey Twizzlers, has returned to the shelves (and caused outrage in Liverpool and Birmingham because there are not enough to go around).

Matthews’ Management have also infuriated their workforce by doubling the price of its employee bus service and scrapping another route entirely.

The company had previously provided subsidised bus services to vital low-paid workers who travel to and from factories in the Norfolk village of Great Witchingham and Holton in Suffolk.

Unite the union accused Bernard Matthews’ multi-millionaire owner Ranjit Singh Boparan of reneging on a pledge made personally to workers when he added Matthews to his empire that includes Two Sisters Food Group, Northern Foods and Harry Ramsdens chip shops.

Four years ago, when purchasing the business, Boparan personally assured workers that he would buy his own buses and employ his own drivers if the bus services got too expensive.

Instead, he has announced that the fares will be increased from £3.50 per day to £6.00 per day and that all the bus routes to the Bernard Matthews factory to Great Witchingham will cease entirely in mid-October. At the Holton site fares will go up again to £7 by September 2021.

In February last year Matthews did the same at Great Yarmouth when it when they started charging £3.50 per day. Then it said that increased travel costs have led it to make the decision to set the £1.75 single journey fee, which it claimed amounted to less than one-third of the full amount. Matthews claim they were one of the last companies to provide free transport for workers.

One hundred and fifty factory workers have signed a collective grievance calling on the owner to honour his earlier pledge. Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said that for most workers the only alternative is a taxi at minimum of £20 for a one-way trip. He points out that the nearest bus stop to Matthews’ Great Witchingham site is a 25-minute walk from the factory down an unlit road with no pavements and the earliest bus that gets to the site is 9am, which would make workers late for their shift. He added that: “Low paid workers, essential to food production, deserve to be treated better during the current health crisis. Bernard Matthews must meet with the union to resolve this situation urgently.”

Then the union said: “Making a charge for transport to and from work that many have used for years and that others have based their employment decision on (ie free travel) will cause, for many, considerable hardship, particularly when our members are already under tremendous pressure,” a doubling of the fares now only adds to that point.

Both Great Witchingham and Holton are far too posh for the working classes to be allowed to live in them. The turkeys have made no comment as we go to press.