Staff at 2 Sisters, the food producer that supplies the UK’s biggest supermarkets, have accused the company of breaking its promise of an extended break to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, instead rewarding them with a “disgusting” sausage meat bap.
The company, which is based in West Bromwich, said last week that staff would be given two hours to watch the proceedings, after it faced criticism for refusing them extra pay or a day off in lieu for working during the funeral, which had been declared a bank holiday.
But factory workers told the Guardian this did not happen and that a free breakfast they were offered, apparently as a reward for working that day, was “like eating cardboard”.
“We didn’t get that two-hour break,” said one staff member, who works on a chicken breast production line at the company’s Sandycroft factory in north Wales. “The managers didn’t know anything about it. It was just a normal day.”
“The funeral was on [a canteen television] when we went for break but we only get 30 minutes and you have to go down after 25 because you have to be back on the line.,” they added.
A second staff member said the two-hour break was “a lie”, with shifts resuming after the usual time period.
2 Sisters had previously said: “Those working Monday will be entitled to an extended two-hour break, free breakfast and lunch, and the funeral can be watched on screens in canteens.”
The company is best known for its chicken factories, which process more than 10.4 million birds a week in the UK and Europe and account for about a third of the poultry eaten in Britain each day.
Owned by Midlands “chicken king” Ranjit Boparan, the company also makes ready-made products such as pies and pizzas, supplying customers including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, KFC, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
Bev Clarkson, a national officer for the Unite union, criticised the company for its stance over the funeral.
“These revelations add insult to injury,” said Clarkson.
“Not only have 2 Sisters forced workers to work on a bank holiday without additional pay or additional time off but it now appears that the minimal extra provisions promised to sugar the pill failed to materialise.
“All workers deserve to be treated fairly and decently.”
A 2 Sisters spokesperson said: “All colleagues at our 15 locations throughout the UK were given the opportunity to pay their respects on the day of the Queen’s funeral, which included extended breaks, free food, and a chance to watch the funeral on TV.”