Budgens branch backs workers over 2 Sisters row

Unite has hailed a Budgens boss a “local hero” for supporting sacked 2 Sisters workers by removing the processor’s products from his shelves.

Store owner Dominic Yarnold was reacting to protests held outside his store on Friday (13 November) by workers sacked from the 2 Sisters Smethwick site in early October. The workers claim that their dismissal was unfair, saying they were sacked after after demanding a proper inquiry into an alleged incident of racial abuse at the Midlands plant.

Yarnold has removed the company’s Devonshire Red products from his shelves and contacted the 2 Sisters meat buyer with a letter explaining that he is not prepared to stock 2 Sisters produce until there is a satisfactory resolution to the situation.

He said: “As an independent retailer and a member of this community, I cannot support unethical conduct. Racial abuse is simply wrong. I have notified our meat buyer of my worries about 2 Sisters’ behaviour and will make sure Unite and the workers are aware of the actions the Musgrave group are prepared to take.

Unite said that it hoped Yarnold’s actions would encourage other 2 Sisters customers to put pressure on the processor.

Joe Clarke, Unite regional industrial officer and organiser of the demonstration, said: “Mr Yarnold’s public-spirited actions have given the workers a real boost. They are delighted that he has put ethics before profits and cleared his shelves of 2 Sisters’ Devonshire Red chicken products.

The union also organised protests outside Marks & Spencer, but the retailer has refused to intervene.

Clarke said: “Big, powerful retailers, like Marks & Spencer, that refuse repeatedly to use their influence to help these vulnerable workers, should be hanging their heads in shame that it takes a smaller, independent business to stand up against racism and bullying.”

2 Sisters has accused Unite of "bullying" and insists that it acted fairly, adding that it sacked the workers following an “illegal and unconstitutional strike”.

The processor said it would not tolerate any kind of racial discrimination and insisted that the alleged incident was “thoroughly investigated”, but there was no evidence of racist abuse. It dismissed the union’s attempts to target M&S as “ridiculous”, pointing out that the retailer is not, and has never been, a customer of 2 Sister’s Birmingham site.