Migrant workers 3 - Mike Darley's story
A former security guard blows the whistle about conditions at S&A Produce...
A former security guard has said how pleased he is that migrant workers have come forward to speak out about the state of affairs at S&A Produce.
Mike Darley worked at the Brierley camp, near Leominster, from April to June 2006 and he told Howard Bentham at Breakfast how dismayed he was about things.
He had friends at the site last year, when he was there, who were treated the same as in the migrant stories he heard on BBC Hereford and Worcester during a special investigation series into life at S&A Produce.
Mike said he has had people contacting him, explaining how things are, and he told them they must do something about it; he's delighted they've now come forward.
As a security guard for the company, Mike confirmed that a yellow-card discipline system did exist, and he had used it.
He likened it to a football referee's approach to penalising someone.
Mike also said he witnessed racism, verbal abuse and name calling towards the migrant workers and said some comments were made "with added spice".
During the hot weather at the time Mike was at S&A Produce, he talked about the time he was found collapsed at work because, he claimed, he was dehydrated by a lack of breaks.
They worked as guards on a 6-2, 2-10, 10-6 shift pattern around the clock, and late one afternoon his security colleagues found him slumped near to the yellow boxes used as homes for migrant workers.
Mike was taken to hospital and he said he was found to have serious dehydration.
He said he was told by the head campsite manager that if he stopped and was found not on his plot, it would be a disciplinary hearing.
Mike said they ran the gauntlet - no tea, coffee or water - the only time he took a break was when he got home, or on a nightshift when he was out of sight.
S&A Produce statement extract
In a fresh statement, S&A denies it operates a yellow-card disciplinary regime.
They answered Mike's other claims regarding workers' breaks by saying:
"We insist all of our workers take the breaks to which they are entitled which exceed the minimum legal requirement. All employees are advised during their induction to take ample fluids with them to their place of work. In addition to this, we also provide free drinking water at each location."
last updated: 28/11/07