Four hundred elderly women have been freed from a factory in the Midlands where they were employed to ‘knit’ Shreddies for a pittance. Police were tipped off that the ‘Nanas’, made famous by recent advertising were being forced to work sixteen hour days seven days a week in atrocious conditions. When police raided the factory, they found many women close to death and several had to be put to sleep at their workstations as they became violent when officers tried to bring them to safety. One woman lashed out with her knitting needles and badly injured one officer; she was eventually cornered in a toilet cubicle and shot in the head.
Chief Constable Derek Turner who led the operation said, ‘These women were making millions for Nestle and yet were being subjected to inhumane conditions and appalling working hours. We discovered that they had been lured into the factory with promises of tea and jamaica cake, and were then chained to desks and made to knit Shreddies for endless hours and a wage of £1 an hour.’ TV reporters were quickly on the scene and filmed as bewildered old women were led out of the factory, many with their faces shrouded by blankets or doilies.
Thomas Schrapp, a spokesperson for Nestle said, ‘We utterly dispute the allegations against us. The women were employed for their superior knitting skills and this was an exemplar project for keeping people working beyond retirement age. The workers never complained about the conditions and were given as much tea as they could stomach.’
When questioned by reporters about the discovery of several bodies in a store cupboard, Mr Schrapp said, ‘In any high volume operation like this there will be casualties; we placed them in an appropriate place and had made some attempts to contact the families. Nothing would have happened to the bodies and they would have been collected by relatives eventually. They died of natural causes and of course all deaths are regrettable, but they were all here of their own free will and were never denied access to their dementia drugs or anything like that at all.’