More details of the appalling exploitation of migrant workers by a pizza company are coming to light.
Multi-millionaire Surinder Kandola, who lives in a £4 million mansion in Surrey, owns a string of companies including Global Pizzas, a franchisee of Domino’s Pizzas that controls over 30 outlets.
Before they started work, migrants were charged around £500 for a car to deliver pizzas, £700 to insure their vehicles and £100 a fortnight for accommodation.
In some cases these charges left them receiving “minus” pay slips and having to borrow money from their pizza parlour manager for food, meaning more deductions.
A dozen young Hungarians working for Global Pizza in Derby were sacked after contacting the Unite union.
Simon Wallace, from the T&G section of Unite, said, “The way they have been treated is immoral and very possibly illegal.”
He said the union had received calls from other workers at Global Pizza franchises.
He said, “We have received calls from other workers in Sheffield, Barnsley, Leeds, Wolverhampton and many other places alleging the problems they are having.”
Erika Biro, one of the sacked workers, told Socialist Worker, “I was hoping to earn £800 to £1,000 a month but after the deductions all I have earned is about £100.
“We can't afford clothes – we just wear what we brought with us. I have a plane ticket home but it is not valid until 15 August and I don't know where I am going to live in the meantime.
“I feel cheated, tricked and angry – and sorry for my friends here who are also in the same state.”
Laslo Legradi gave up a job as a construction worker earning up to £700 a month. He paid £180 introduction fee in Hungary, then £490 for a 1995 Ford Escort and over £600 car insurance.
He said, “I was taken to a house in Burton-on-Trent. I had to pay for the petrol. Conditions were appalling – three people sleeping on one mattress. I had a bed without a mattress.
“I was there for three weeks. For four days we had no electricity or water.”
Since February he has paid off £2,000 deductions and managed to get pay packets of £180, £317 and £370 – the last for a 110-hour week.
Pali Zsolt started work on 1 March. He has not received a penny – all his wages have gone on paying back deductions. He told Socialist Worker, “I was promised £700 to £800 a month. I had to pay £550 for a 1987 Ford Mondeo and hundreds more for insurance.
“I have just this week paid off the car and insurance and now I've been sacked.
“I've been told it's because I don't have official permission to work here, but I thought the company was arranging that.”
Domino’s reported a rise in half-year profits to £8.3 million last month.
A statement issued by Domino’s said it had begun a thorough investigation into the employment practices of Global Pizza.
“The franchisee concerned is confident that he possesses the evidence required to refute these allegations,” it said.
It added, “Having reviewed the evidence provided by the franchisee, it would appear there has not been any unlawful deduction.”
The issue of poor treatment of migrant workers was highlighted by Domino’s Pizza on the company’s internal web bulletin board in May this year.
The staff website implored franchisees to ensure workers gave correct documentation.
It warns, “There are employers out there who have hired illegally and take advantage of them by paying ridiculously low salaries, working massive hours and charging them for substandard living accommodation. This is despicable.”
Kandola told the BBC he had not exploited anyone, and the charges were “without foundation”.
Instead, he said, he was the victim of a “vindictive” campaign of union bullying.