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Southall workers go to Parliament to highlight concerns over “fire and rehire” at chilled foods supplier

Around 100 workers of a Southall-based ready meals supplier went to Parliament yesterday (23 March 2023) to highlight their concern over being threatened with losing their jobs if they don’t accept new conditions.

According to the GMB Union, Pilgrims Food Masters, which owns ethnic meals supplier Noon, has told workers they will be sacked and reemployed on worse terms and conditions – including no paid breaks, reduced sick pay and the removal of Diwali holiday pay.

The company supplies a number of supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

Perry Philips, GMB Regional Organiser said: “Fire and rehire is a cruel, outdated practice that has no place in the modern world. This is a low-paid, predominantly women workforce – many of whose families have worked at Pligrim for generations. And this is the thanks they get? It’s outrageous. Workers are already terrified about how they will pay their bills; many are already relying on foodbanks. This will make things so much worse. GMB calls on Pligrim to do the right thing by its loyal workforce: stop this savage scheme before it’s too late.”

Their union says more than 100 staff have already been made redundant with the closure of the Collett Way plant and this could rise as high as 250.

Local MP for Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma has also spoken out. He said: “It is absolutely shocking that Pilgrim’s Food Masters is set to fire and rehire the dedicated and hardworking employees in my constituency, Ealing Southall, only to rehire them on worse terms and conditions.”

Mr Sharma added: “I’ve fought this outdated practice since the 1970s and it’s disgraceful to see it rear its ugly head once again at a time when workers across the country face a deteriorating cost of living crisis. We must oppose this barbaric policy at every turn.”

In a statement, Pilgrim’s Food Masters said: “Against the backdrop of a difficult economic environment and declining volumes in our chilled meals business, we need to make changes that help sustain our business and safeguard the jobs of our people.

“Throughout this process, our aim has always been to secure the best possible outcome for our people, proposing only the minimum changes that are required to support the future viability of the business and bring our T&Cs in line with industry standards.

“We are still in the middle of the consultation; we continue to seek positive solutions with the GMB union and are committed to retaining our current valued workforce.”

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