Monday, 10 November 2014

This "Sandwich Makers from Hungary" Story

From the Northampton Chronicle and Echo

An article in the Daily Mail newspaper today said Greencore was having to recruit a 300-strong workforce from abroad to work in its new £30 million sandwich factory, opening in 2016, because “no local people wanted to do the job”. It led to the front-page headline, “Is there no one left in Britain who can make a sandwich?”.

But, in response, the company which produces 430 million sandwiches per year, said it had been “pleased” with the response from local job applicants.

It aims to recruit 250 new people in total to staff the new facility and is not looking to fill all the positions with Hungarians.

Good that all the other newspapers and TV companies didn't just print articles regarding that without calling up to verify, eh?

Sally Mortimer, officer for Unite the Union said: “We welcome the possibility of 250 new jobs in the Northampton area. With the closure of Solway foods in Corby, there are plenty of well-trained members that are looking for permanent work. The jobs fair will give hope to many of the unemployed local people who have struggled to find employment.”

Margot Parker MEP for UKIP pointed out that more than 500 jobs were lost earlier this year when the Solway Food factory in Corby closed. The workers were doing near identical jobs, she said.

She added: “It is apparent that the availability of cheap labour from Hungary is more important than the livelihoods of local people. It is doubly galling that the taxes paid by ex-Corby workers will subsidise the tax credits of the new Hungarian employees. Talk about sticking the knife in.

Jesus. Corby is 20 miles away on a not particularly fast road. I'd be surprised if many people from there would want to travel that far for such a job rather than finding something local in Corby.

And none of this would be a problem if we had a Citizen's Income, because a lot more of the people in Northampton that could do these jobs would take them as they wouldn't lose benefits.


Mark Wadsworth said...

"It is doubly galling that the taxes paid by the new Hungarian employees will subsidise the unemployment benefit of the ex-Corby employees."

Ian Hills said...

From the link page -

"“However, we will also be considering applicants from further afield, including Hungary, and will be conducting interviews with suitable candidates in due course."

Only by the Labour candidate threatening to do a UKIP on them by exposing them as cheap labour bastards have they agreed to hire a stall at a local jobs fair.

The Stigler said...




Cheap labour bastards? Isn't everyone one of them? I didn't see many people giving my mate more money to build PCs when Dell started making them for less in China.

Budvar said...

This is something that has been bugging me for sometime, and that is why do companies prefer to take on immigrants over local people?

I've heard all the bollox about Brits are just too lazy or stupid to do the job etc, but this is patently untrue, as these companies managed fine with Brit labour before.

I thought, there has to be some financial advantage to employing a bunch of people who mostly don't speak English or very little and all that entails on the production line.

I was speaking to a retired company director this past week, and he said and I quote.. "The government used to subsidise every immigrant worker I employed at about a £1 an hour. This isn't a direct payment, they give you a discount on your (I think he said Capitol gains tax?) tax bill at the end of the year". Now if some of these are working 70 hrs a week, and you employ 100 or more of them, that's some serious wedge we're taking here.

Rich Tee said...

As some people have pointed out, nobody is going to apply for a job now that starts in 2016.

So this looks like PR job. The company is trying to proactively counter criticism that it only recruits abroad, which is what it was going to do anyway.

As well as the explanation above, does the company have to pay the pension contributions of foreign workers? Also foreign workers will less likely be looking to buy a house or raise a family here so are not so bothered by low pay or lack of prospects.

Dinero said...

Well if the worker is moving too and from , and spending the pay in a different country, with say half the cost of living of the UK , then the worker from that country is being offered twice the pay than the uk worker is being offered in spending power, for the same work. Thats a big difference in motivation to take the work. Say £14 compared to £7.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Aye. Consider how it is here, when we are only 1 hour twenty minutes, average, away from Poland!(103 Km)

They come here nick all our jobs, and go back home every night and pay Polish rent, and Polish shop prices! NOT forgetting, Polish TAX!

The Stigler said...


I don't really believe that. I'd welcome someone showing me any documentation to support a claim of tax benefits.

Most employers want people with the right skills. They don't really mind where they're from, although they're probably biased in favour of British employees because they know that it'll be simpler. Anyone who thinks (like that MEP) that employers deliberately hire Hungarians is barking.

mombers said...

Not applicable to manual labour like this but there is a definite tax advantage to bringing someone in short-ish term to do skilled work. For example, we outsource some work to India (mainly stuff that is more convenient for their time zone but also some stuff that could be done here). We brought a guy over for 6 months to learn the ropes, they put him up in corporate housing and gave him subsistence. All of this would be taxed at 13.7% employer's NI and 32 or 42% earned income tax (employee NI + income tax) if a company tried to give it to a local worker but this guy got it all tax free. His much lower salary in India was subject to their tax of course. Now it's all very legitimate business expenses but it does illustrate how the punitive taxation of labour makes it attractive to offshore work. It's not just about lower salaries.
On a related note, I think MW wrote something about how easy LVT would be if every company decided to pay their employees in housing - HMRC would become very good at valuations very quickly to figure out the tax due on the benefit in kind!

Bayard said...

"but this is patently untrue, as these companies managed fine with Brit labour before."

B, were you around in the '70's?

Budvar said...

Yes I was around in the 70's, but that was 40+ years ago. We've had 18 years of Thatcherism in the meantime, and the emasculation of the unions. The working environment of the 70's was a different world away.

Here's a thought, how about picking a few large firms known to hire a large proportion of East Europeans in their workforce, and cross reference their turnover v tax payable as a percentage (a before and after kinda thing), and see if there's any discrepancy between then and now? That should put that one to bed, one way or the other.

Bayard said...

Ok, B, how about the phenomenon of the "Polish plumber"? Lots of plumbers and other tradesmen came here from Poland twenty years ago and quickly gained a reputation for being reliable, inexpensive and cheerful, compared to British plumbers and builders who already had a reputation for being unreliable, dishonest and expensive. Of course there were exceptions, but those reputations wouldn't have arisen amongst private individuals who were hiring tradesmen without a sniff of any Government subsidy, if there wasn't more than a grain of truth in it, especially considering the generally xenophobic nature of the British.

Votefor said...

Wooo!! A sandwich factory ! It's beyond ridicule.

Budvar said...

Bayard, being in the building game myself, price is paramount. 10 itinerant polacks sharing a 2 bedroomed flat, eating pigs heads, and moving every 6mths once the utilities start to be turned off after non payment, and working on a cash only basis, can afford to charge substantially less than UK builders who have a wife and kids, mortgage and the VATman to deal with.