Socialist Worker

Pratt’s Bananas accused of unfair treatment for migrant workers

by Stephen Coghlan
Issue No. 2053

BBC Radio 4 last week accused a leading supplier of fair trade bananas to major supermarkets of exploiting Eastern European migrant workers.

Workers at Pratt’s Bananas in Luton say they have to work excessive hours, six or seven days a week, and fear losing their jobs if they refuse.

A Polish woman who says she miscarried because of her duties is taking the firm to an industrial tribunal.

Pratt’s Bananas said the welfare of its workers was of “paramount importance” and it had begun an inquiry.

The woman who suffered a miscarriage claims bosses at the company’s plant refused to put her on light duties despite knowing that she was having problems with her pregnancy.

The woman, known only as Magdalena, said, “We don’t have a break because it was something like punishment. When you [were] finished you [had] a break – if you don’t finish, you don’t have a break.”

She also said that during ten to 12-hour shifts workers had to ask permission to go to the toilet, and if that was refused then workers had to remain on the production line.

Workers also said breaks were refused if they did not meet production quotas.

Following the revelations Socialist Worker supporters handed out leaflets in English and Polish at the shift change at the plant on Friday of last week.

The leaflets advertised the open day for migrant workers organised by the Trade Union Education unit at the nearby Dunstable College on Saturday 9 June.

Workers eagerly received the leaflets. The idea of the open day is to encourage migrant workers to become unionised.

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Tue 29 May 2007, 18:53 BST
Issue No. 2053
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