Crumbs of wisdom from the workforce

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The Independent Online
Crumpets, not tycoons, dominated talk at RHM's bakery in Greenford, west London, yesterday.

Ken, 51, enjoying his 'evening' pint at 3pm - he leaves the factory at 4am to deliver bread - explained: 'We're doing badly because we can't sell crumpets in the summer. People don't eat so much and the crumpets' shelf-life is too short in the warm weather.

'I'll start delivering them next month when it's colder. We'll start doing better then.'

He did not know, he said, what a Hanson takeover would mean and he did not care provided 'the guv'nor' wanted to bake and sell.

He added: 'What's it got to do with me? I only work here. Lord This? RHM That? It doesn't matter to me as long as we are baking and I'm delivering.'

Others were not so optimistic. Michael, 50, a maintenance worker at the factory, which produces a million loaves and a quarter of a million packets of crumpets a week from autumn to early summer, said: 'Hanson is an asset-stripper. He breaks things up leaving nothing for anyone but himself.

'I think it's better we stay together because a lot of small companies are going to the wall.'

Angry at 'inflexible' management, some workers welcomed the prospect of change. Trevor, 43, said: 'RHM stands for Ruddy Horrible Managers.

'We've had good guys working here for many years. They do one thing wrong and they're sacked. If we got new owners maybe they would be fairer.'

Workers knew the company faced problems.

Ted, 58, who has delivered Mothers Pride, Champion and Hovis sliced loaves for 18 years, blamed the recession and supermarket pricing.

'People used to throw bread away,' he said. 'They can't afford to do that now. If a housewife buys a loaf she uses the whole lot.

'People aren't buying so much. And the supermarkets are discounting like crazy. They're selling a loaf for 49p - you can't make money like that.'

Ken, heading home for bed at 7pm, agreed: 'The economy has to improve before the business will start looking up. I just hope it comes before the end of the crumpet season.'