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Two men killed for baker’s profit

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Issue 1759

Real face of giant firms

Two men killed for baker’s profit

BOSSES OF one of Britain’s biggest bread firms should be in jail for murder this week. Instead the company only has fines to pay after two workers burned to death in a bread oven.

Managers at Fresha Bakeries in Leicester sent Ian Erickson and David Mayes to fix the giant oven. They had no experience of this work, but it was cheaper to use them than paying specialist contractors 2,500. The oven is supposed to be switched off for at least 12 hours before anyone enters. It had been off for only two hours and was still at 100oC when the men were ordered in.

“I’m not happy about this,” Ian Erickson said before going into the giant oven. Once inside the men quickly realised the temperature was still lethally hot and sent a panic-stricken message on a radio. But it was too late. Prosecuting barrister Anthony Barker QC told the court, “They were trapped. There was no system of reversing the conveyer and no system of getting them out of the oven.”

By the time the two men could be got out they had received extensive burns, and both later died. The firm was fined 350,000. Managers John Bridons, Brian Jones and Dennis Masters were also fined after being convicted of health and safety offences. The charge against the company should have been murder, with the motive profit. Fresha is not a small outfit.

It is owned by Harvestime Ltd. This Walsall based company is part of the William Price food group. The company has a 105 million a year turnover. As well as well known brands like Hovis and Boboli Pizza products, Harvestime makes much of the bread sold in major supermarkets under their own labels. It accounts for 56 percent of the supermarkets’ “in-store bakeries” market. Two men died to save this huge company 2,500.

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