New accusations of poor treatment of agency workers at Heinz in Wigan
A war of words has erupted after a whistleblower accused a recruitment agency at Wigan’s Heinz complex of treating staff shabbily
The worker, who asked not to be identified, at the national distribution centre for the food processing giant in Kitt Green claimed zero-hours contracts meant people would arrive for shifts but be turned away as they weren’t needed.
However, PMP Recruitment Agency, the firm at the centre of the allegations, has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and called the claims against it ‘unfounded’. The whistleblower at
Heinz Wincanton said: “It’s dreadful. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. It’s just awful.
"They are recruiting by the tens because the staff turnover is so bad.
“They are not informing people of shift changes. Last week on Monday and Tuesday at 5.30am a number of people turned up and were turned away. They hadn’t been told they weren’t needed.
“They also keep getting wages wrong and there’s then no way you can manage on the money you get to last you the week. Once I got paid for two days instead of the four I was owed. This sort of error is happening all the time.
“If you don’t work you don’t get paid. It’s just inhumane. How can you claim benefits for a couple of days if you’re not needed? People are not going to stay for the money if there’s no guarantee of work.”
The accusation of wages being in error and employees having to chase them up to receive what they are owed mirrors a claim in the dispute involving Randstad agency, in which Unite has expressed concern about the goings-on at the Heinz plant and ordered its legal team to get involved.
Heinz plant workers also say employees have been driven to the use of foodbanks because they have so little cash.
But PMP Recruitment has launched a vigorous defence of its employment practices and queried some of the claims being made.
A spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to hear these allegations which we believe to be unfounded.
“We pay the national living wage to all the contractors at this site and on the rare occasion that there is a query it is resolved swiftly.
“Shifts are booked in advance and this is a guarantee of work and payment. Anyone turning up speculatively at the site would be turned away.
“We would like to remind our contractors that there are a number of channels available to them for raising any concerns including a confidential helpline.”
Workers’ rights at Heinz are currently in the spotlight as agency workers with Randstad at the main plant have announced a meeting to discuss possible strike action in a move backed by leading union Unite.