Doncaster unemployed are “lazy” and “unreliable” - says firm

MP Rosie Winterton swapped Parliamentary duties for pie making after taking a tour of the Topping Pie bakery. She is pictured here with Lynda Povey, General Manager and Roger Topping. Picture: Marie Caley D3756MC
MP Rosie Winterton swapped Parliamentary duties for pie making after taking a tour of the Topping Pie bakery. She is pictured here with Lynda Povey, General Manager and Roger Topping. Picture: Marie Caley D3756MC

AN EXPANDING Doncaster family business claims it is struggling to fill jobs - because too many jobseekers are not prepared to work hard enough.

Bosses at the Topping Pie Company, based at Chappell Drive, which has been in business since 1962 in the town, claim many people have come through its doors looking for work, but believe most do not seem willing to pull their weight.

Owner Roger Topping said since July the firm has taken on lots of new business which meant it needed to expand its workforce, but in three months has struggled to find staff who are up to the work.

“We have taken on all Morrison’s Yorkshire stores, a number of Sainsbury’s and we have orders for Selfridges, Makro, Fenwicks and Asda,” he explained.

“Business has nearly doubled so we’ve had to expand our workforce but we just can’t find the staff.

“We can take people on temporarily and if they’re any good they could be taken on full time, but what we have been getting is a joke.”

The family business first started out as a butchers in Scawsby in 1962 before moving into Doncaster market 39 years ago. It expanded to start making pies in 1991. Orders now go as far and wide as Hong Kong, Cyprus and Malta as well as on P&O, Cunard and Saga cruise ships.

There are 35 members of staff at its depot, with jobs available in production, packing and fork lift truck training.

He added: “We just can’t get the staff, we are carrying out interviews and people seem interested and then they either just don’t turn up or are lazy.

“The staff we do have are having to work six and a half days a week because of the demand. The first half of the year it was dire, but now we’re flying.”

Operations supervisor Mrs Wendy McMahon added: “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve interviewed, or how many CVs I’ve looked at.

“You interview them and they seem up for it so you set them on, but almost all of them are unreliable.”

“They always seem keen and then we start getting excuses. All they need is to be willing to learn and do a hard day’s work.”

She said if decent workers did not come forward soon she would have no choice but to fill the posts with agency staff.

Official labour market statistics show 18,100 unemployed people in Doncaster, and a total of 119,300 were reported as in work.

Dan Fell, deputy chief executive at Doncaster Chamber, said: “Whilst Doncaster does have its challenges, like many other towns, when it comes to recruiting for some skilled positions, it is a mixed picture with a good many firms praising the high quality of the labour market in the town.

“The Chamber is working closely with the Federation of Small Businesses, Doncaster Council and Doncaster College at the moment to identify and address the skill needs required by employers in the borough, in order to develop an action plan across Doncaster to address any skills gaps highlighted, primarily through education, training and improved careers guidance.”

Unemployed people outside Doncaster Job Centre Plus were angry at the company’s claims, and rejected any suggestion that all those out of work are lazy.

Jobless Courtney Box, aged 17, of Wheatley previously worked at a petrol station before being laid off. She said: “I am hoping to go to college but I still want a job.

“It’s hard to get one though, I suppose some people are lazy, but I’m not.”

Similarly Benjamin Breakwell, 23, of Broxholme Lane in Doncaster has been out of work for seven months having being made redundant from his last job as a de-pollution operative which he held for six months.

“Lazy and unreliable?” he said. “They obviously haven’t met me yet. They are obviously not getting the right sort of people.

“I’m a fast learner, good time keeper but I can’t get a job because there is so many people looking for work. Businesses want cheap labour.”

n Toppings Pie Company is further expanding on November 1 when it opens a new pie stand at Crystal Peaks in Sheffield.