10 Nov 2014

How to make a Daily Mail sandwich

As it raises concerns people in the UK may have lost the ability to put two slices of bread either side of a filling, the Daily Mail has sandwiched its article between two of its favourite themes.

The Daily Mail article about a UK sandwich company recruiting from Hungary chimes with the newspaper’s concerns over immigration and the “work-shy” British benefit claimant.

The article says that Greencore, which supplies sandwichs to retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, is heading to Hungary to employ staff for its new factory (opening in 2016) because local staff will not do the job – and suggests this is because of Britain’s “generous welfare system”.

But are things a little more complicated than that?

British workers

British people may not want to work for Greencore because of the wages on offer. The company declined to tell Channel 4 News what it is paying new employees, but in 2012 Unite said the company was paying the majority of its staff at a site in Hull the minimum wage.

If potential employees saw reviews of the company on careers site Glassdoor, as pointed out by the usvsth3m website, this could also put them off.

Greencore statement: "Greencore employs around 1,100 colleagues in Northampton, and is currently looking to recruit a number of new staff. We have already started a range of recruitment initiatives locally and have been pleased with the response. However, we will also be considering applicants from further afield, including Hungary, and will be conducting interviews with suitable candidates in due course. We are extremely proud of the diversity of our workforce and, as always, will be hiring on a strict equal opportunities basis."

Northamptonshire also does not have a large pool of unemployed people. The unemployment rate in Northampton is 6.8 per cent – the national average – and across the county it is significantly lower than the national average at 5.7 per cent.

On top of that we should perhaps not accept that UK benefits are so generous that they would prevent people looking for work. The European Committee of Social Rights, which monitors if European Union states are conforming with labour laws, doesn’t think so.

In January it said the UK’s welfare system is “manifestly inadequate” as payments including long and short term incapacity benefits, job seeker’s allowance and the state pension do not reach 40 per cent of “median equivalised income” as measured by Eurostat.


According to the article Hungarians could effectively double their salaries from £7,000 to £13,520 a year by taking jobs with Greencore in Northampton (a calculation based on the minimum wage). This does not, however, take into account the cost of living in each country.

According to LivingWageIndicator.org, which measures different countries’ living wages (what you need to be paid to afford the basic cost of living) against the minimum wage, the differences between the UK and Hungary are negligible.

The site estimates the UK living wage at between €698 and €1,143 a month (the UK minimum wage is €1,325). The Hungarian living wage is between €184 and €239 with a minimum wage of €329.

Both countries, therefore, have a minimum wage that is roughly double the lower estimate of the living wage.

Additionally, immigration from the EU-8, eight European countries including Hungary, has been falling. From highs of 103,000 in 2007, 61,000 from the eight countries came in 2013.

Twitter responds

And just to be a little light-hearted, here’s some of our favourite responses to #sandwichgate: