Is the bread you eat infected with diseased shit?
Wednesday February 21, 2007 22:28 by Bristol Citizens
If you're eating a slice of toast, put it down now. The title of this article is literal.
NEWS RELEASE: for immediate release
21 February 2007
There were extraordinary scenes at a Bristol Employment Tribunal today as a senior manager at one of Britain’s largest bakers failed to deny that “there was a pair of overalls found covered in excrement” inside one of the company’s factories.
Les Carradine, an Assistant Manager for British Bakeries Limited based at the company’s Avonmouth plant, personally managed the dismissal of David Norman, an employee at the plant for 24 years.
Mr Norman, who suffers from a disfiguring skin condition - seborrhoeic dermatitis – was dismissed by Mr Carradine in March 2006 after being absent from work with gastroenteritis.
Under cross examination from Jerry Hicks, the former Amicus Convenor at Rolls Royce, representing Mr Norman, Mr Carradine agreed that Mr Norman had all the correct medical certification to prove he had gastroenteritis.
He also agreed that the company’s employee handbook clearly stated that employees with such conditions are required to stay away from work for food safety reasons. He even said that had Mr Norman come to work with the condition, “I would have sent him home”.
However Mr Carradine then proceeded to sack Mr Norman on his return to work as “he was at Stage 4” of the company’s ‘Management Attendance Procedure’, a disciplinary process for managing absences at the plant.
Mr Carradine stated that Mr Norman, despite being medically certified as ill and having followed the company’s employee guidelines correctly, was still placed on “stage 5” of their daft process and therefore he could be – and was – dismissed.
Under cross examination Mr Carradine failed to acknowledge the obvious conflict between the company’s employee handbook and the important issues of food safety it addresses and the company’s ‘Management Attendance Procedure’.
He also denied that the ‘Management Attendance Procedure’ encouraged staff to attend work with serious illnesses in order to avoid disciplinary proceedings and possible dismissal. He told the tribunal he was unaware this had ever happened.
However when Mr Norman’s defence asked, to general uproar from the company’s large legal and PR team present, if “there was a pair of overalls found covered in excrement at the factory” and if that might not be the result of a staff member attending whilst sick, Mr Carradine, under oath, ambiguously replied, “I did not deal with it.”
Unfortunately Mr Carradine did not indicate who did ‘deal with it’ either, preferring to repeat, “I did not deal with it” on two more occasions.
In a generally limp-wristed display, Mr Carradine, who cost Mr Norman his job, his home and his seriously ill parents’ home, even complained to the Chair of the Tribunal that the questions from Mr Hicks, on simple matters of company policy and professional conduct and behaviour, were “intimidating” him.
And when questioned about his knowledge of Mr Norman’s long term skin condition Mr Carradine could only reply “I thought it was eczema. No. I thought it was acne. I didn’t know”
This senior British Bakeries Ltd. Employee also criticised Mr Norman for having “a bad attitude” at his dismissal hearing and couldn’t seem to agree that Mr Norman’s statement of the obvious at this hearing: “if you’re sick you’re sick” was a simple statement of fact.
After the tribunal Mr Norman’s rep, Jerry Hicks said: “The issue here is very simple. British Bakeries Ltd. have an absence policy that can only encourage employees handling the food we eat to work when sick or face the sack. The policy is iniquitous for employees, dangerous to consumers and is yet another disaster waiting to happen for the UK’s food industry.”
British Bakeries Limited is one of the UK's largest bakery companies supplying around one third of the market for plant baked bread in the UK. They own some of Britain’s best-loved brands and are a major supplier to British supermarkets including Marks & Spencers, Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose.
Mr Norman is claiming unfair dismissal and making claims under The Disability Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Act. The Tribunal ended today and has reserved its judgement.
For further information:
Jerry Hicks - 07817 827912
Steve Norman - 07818 677188