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Pizza Factory Broke Safety Rules 647 Times

Monday, November 4, 2013

GMB Calls On Bakkavor To Adhere To Working Time Regulations For Safety After Uncovering Massive Breaches At Harrow Pizza Factory

Excessive working hours are dangerous causing the 1988 Clapham Junction rail disaster in which thirty-five people died and five hundred were injured so Bakkavor must act says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in the food manufacturing industry, is calling on senior managers at Bakkavor to intervene so that the Working Time Directive is adhered to for health and safety reasons at its pizza factory in Harrow, North West London employing 800 workers.

This is after the union uncovered information which proves there have been massive breaches of the Working Time Directive at the Harrow factory which is one of the country's largest pizza manufacturing sites. Bakkavor Pizza produce millions of fresh and frozen pizzas every year for nearly all the major supermarkets, including Sainsbury, Waitrose and Morrisons.

Last week GMB demanded that Bakkavor take immediate action to safeguard members at the Harrow factory after another worker suffered the loss of the top of a finger in an accident with a faulty food processing machine. For this Bakkavor Pizza was fined the maximum £20,000 and ordered to pay over £12,000 in costs for breaches of the Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

GMB has now established examples of several  hundred occasions, over a three month period (July, August and September 2013) where  workers were not receiving the required 11 hour rest break between shifts as required by the Working Time Directive for safety reasons.

When challenged on this the management team attempted to accept the breaches and then deflect the issue by saying they were aware of the practice and have issued a plan of action to tackle the problem. GMB understands that the action plan has not been implemented.

Tony Warr, GMB Senior Organiser, said "When GMB found out about these 647 breaches we were astounded.

A company the size of Bakkavor should have the resources in place to ensure our members health, safety and welfare is not compromised.

Bakkavor know that excessive working hours are dangerous. The rail disaster in Clapham Junction in 1988, in which thirty-five people died and five hundred were injured, was caused by a technician who had worked a seven day week for the previous thirteen weeks.

GMB has asked for detailed reasons as to why there have been so many breaches of the Working Time Regulations. All of this coming out just days after Bakkavor Pizza was fined the maximum £20,000 and ordered to pay over £12,000 in costs for breaches of the Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

To my astonishment the employer has failed to implement the action plan they say they have in place. Only this week I have been informed of workers finishing their shift to return and clock on again three hours later. In another case, a worker completed their shift, worked eight hours overtime and then had only fours off before commencing work again. This is a very profitable business so they can easily afford to employ sufficient people to monitor the working time of the workers. But it seems in Bakkavor's case that profit comes before safety.

We have told the company we want full disclosure of all records and we will not rest until they make this factory safe for our members. When challenged on this the Human Resources manager at Bakkavor Pizza tried to fob off the GMB by suggesting that earlier in the year they put in place corrective measures to ensure this would not happen.

If this was the case then why was the Working Time Regulations breached 647 times, over the three month period between July and September. Their processes are simply not working and somebody must be held accountable".


Contact: Tony Warr, GMB Senior Organiser on 07710 631336 or GMB Press Office: 07974 251823 or 020 7391 6755  

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