Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/589/7593
Greedy bosses exploiting seasonal workers
The Independent recently reported on the exploitation of Bulgarian and Romanian workers by Tesco supplier, S&A Produce. Fruit pickers on a farm in Herefordshire received as little as £2.37 an hour after compulsory wage deductions were made. These included fees for cramped accommodation, access to outdated computer equipment and 'pastoral care.'
S&A employs the workers under the government's Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme in which Bulgarians and Romanians are exempt from the right to change jobs if they have problems with their employer. As well as often only being given 15 hours a week, the shortened season of strawberry picking this year has meant that 346 employees have had their contracts terminated earlier than they expected. None of this is illegal but it has left many workers without enough money for flights home.
This is another example of foreign workers being exploited by employers who seek to avoid paying fair wages and offering secure jobs. This is why we need to fight for the rights of all workers in Britain.
According to The Independent's report Tesco are investigating the claims against S&A. It seems unlikely the supermarket giants will take any responsibility for the poor treatment of workers in their supply chain.
It is hardly surprising farms are using loopholes in employment laws to cut labour costs when Tesco put so much pressure on them on price. Yet Tesco are enjoying rising annual profits of over £3 billion.
Worcester Socialist Party branch is campaigning on this, producing a leaflet and organising action in Herefordshire.
Also in the region, unemployment has risen at double the national average in the market town of Evesham. This shows that much more needs to be done to protect the jobs and rights of both British and foreign workers in the fresh produce industries who are often on low paid seasonal or temporary contracts.
In The Socialist 29 July 2009:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party review
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party news and analysis