Socialist Worker

Hilton Foods workers protest against long shifts

Issue No. 2063

Factory workers held an angry protest outside their workplace on Tuesday of last week against plans to introduce longer shift patterns.

The proposals affect 350 workers at Hilton Food Group in Huntingdon, which supplies beef and lamb to nearly half the Tesco stores in Britain.

The changes would mean three 13 hour shifts in a row, instead of a five-day week of eight hours a day.

Worker Artur Worek said, “We are being told we have to work every other weekend. This means working three 13 hour shifts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 8am to 9pm, finishing on a Saturday night.

“Then you’ll work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 6am to 7pm. ?So you have one day off in seven days. Then you get seven days off, but by then we’ll need it.”?Kevin Pass, senior organiser for the Unite union, said, “Workers feel they have no say in these changes. We have tried to talk to the company to resolve the issue but so far they have refused.”

Workers with children and those with more than one family member at the factory will be badly affected by the changes. Many workers will also lose out due to a cut in overtime.

Migrant workers from Poland and Lithuania account for about 80 percent of the factory’s workforce.

The company says Tesco asked the company to supply meat with a longer shelf life and these longer shifts would enable them to do that.

Andy Watson from Unite said, “I think it’s just a cost saving exercise.

“I think the company is trying to get away with it because it thinks migrant workers won’t know any different.

“So we are demonstrating today to force the company to listen.”

Dominik Szczetanski who has worked at the factory for 18 months said, “Thirteen hours is too long to work – we are too tired and very cold.”

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Wed 8 Aug 2007, 19:58 BST
Issue No. 2063
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