THE GMB general union has accused the food company Katsouris, which supplied Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, of having a poor safety record and putting it mainly migrant workers at risk of injury.
The union says the company, part of the Geest group, suffers on average two or three accidents a day, though not all of them have to be reported by law.
In one incident last June, Dimple Muit, a 27-year-old immigrant worker at the Wembley factory in north London, lost the top of her finger as she cleaned out machinery. She said she had reported the faulty machine four or five times to her supervisor. She said the supervisor called for an engineer but managed to get the machine working again without one.
The next time the machines blocked, Muit put her hand in to clear it out and the machine roared into life, cutting into her hand.
Two weeks later Niten Chokshi was loading large bins full of chick peas into a lifting machine at the same factory. “I pushed the button and the whole thing fell on me,” he said through an interpreter. The tops of two fingers were sliced off and his hand was crushed.
The GMB is trying to win recognition at the company and has drawn attention a catalogue of incidents over the last three years.
The Health and Safety Executive has served seven improvement notices on Katsouris in the last four years. The GMB says that pressure from supermarkets forces suppliers to run production lines at speeds that can cause injuries.