Honda snack ban angers workers
By Jeremy Grimaldi
A CAKE and fruit ban is causing problems on Honda’s shop floor – and has led to union demonstrations.
Unite, which has 1,000 members at Honda, has branded the rules draconian.
It says that the guidelines make employees feel as if they are being treated like children.
Now the union has decided to hand out questionnaires to workers to gauge feelings about the revised guidelines, which came into force in October.
It says that the car giant’s strict company standards go too far, particularly as employees are allowed to eat most chocolate bars in break rooms – but not biscuit-based snacks such as Kit-Kat or Twix bars because they may leave crumbs.
Unite is also unhappy that workers are not allowed to take bottled water into the production areas and that they cannot keep mobile phones with them in case of an emergency.
Jim D’Avila, Unite regional officer, said: “The fact that associates are allowed to eat certain chocolate bars and not fruit is utter madness. The canteen is 10 minutes away and for most employees, who only have a 10-minute break, that is too far. So what are they to do?
“Everyone understands rules are necessary, especially on the shop floor.
“But this is not about logic. It’s about Honda imposing its will because it can – these rules are draconian.
“These people have had fluids and fruit in the building for the past 20 years and it has never affected work in the past.”
Mr D’Avila added that depending on how the surveys are received by Honda’s senior executives, Unite plans to organise demonstrations as well as lobbying MPs to get the rules changed.
One employee, who refused to be named, said that the rules were oppressive.
The 47-year-old said: “We are all very worried about the summer. It gets extremely hot in this building and with no drinks we are going to sizzle. These rules are ridiculous and it just hurts morale.”
But Honda believes its company standards are essential to its products’ success and that the revised rules on pocket food were introduced to benefit workers.
A spokeswoman said: “Company standards have been in place at Honda since we started our operation nearly 22 years ago.
“Our overall objective is always to deliver the highest quality product to our customers.
“We will not compromise on achieving this standard of customer satisfaction nor the safety of our associates and therefore the company standards are an important aspect of our business.
“We have three subsidised restaurants on site providing a full meal service, as well as 102 rest areas which supply hot and cold drinks.
“In order to guarantee product quality, our associates are therefore asked not to eat or drink outside of these designated areas.
“We are proud of our excellent working conditions at Honda in Swindon and we regularly
discuss all associate-related issues through our associate representative council.”