BFAWU Statement on Labour Commitment to Tackle Workplace Heat

The BFAWU welcomes today’s announcement by the Labour Party on tackling heat in the workplace. For many years, our Union has been at the forefront and has indeed made calls to businesses, politicians, the Health and Safety Executive as well as the TUC to support measures that protect employees from extreme workplace heat. Our ‘Cool It’ campaign has been asking for reasonable measures to be introduced to protect workers since 2010 and today’s announcement is a step in the right direction to ensuring all workers in hot environments are not left unprotected.

The business lobby has resisted any introduction of even the most minor changes, constantly undermining our ability to bring about the changes we require for a more comfortable working environment. They have knowingly, and willingly put profit before the safety of human beings. The fact that so many of our workplaces record temperatures in excess of forty degrees shows that without legislation, employers will simply not deal with this issue. We expect all employers who are happy to sit in air-conditioned offices with free and easy access to cold drinks, to ensure (as a bare minimum) additional breaks, free drinks and an alteration to the dress code, as well as providing means of reducing the temperature in all areas of the workplace.

Let’s hope that Labour’s commitment to workplace temperature is just the tip of the ‘Cool It!’ iceberg.

Click here for a previous article that includes a link to a Trade Union Rep's guide to heat in the workplace.

Ian Hodson (National President)

BFAWU Statement on Brexit

On July 8th 2019, a number of Labour Party affiliated Trade Unions outlined their position on Brexit, so we would like to take this opportunity to clarify ours.

Although the BFAWU preferred the focus to be on addressing the real issues that face workers in Tory Britain, rather than be distracted by a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union back in 2016, we supported and made the case for a Socialist-based Brexit.

At our recent Annual Conference, we re-confirmed our support to leave the EU and to oppose a second referendum. Instead, we support the call for a General Election, so that we can deal with the social issues such as homelessness, low pay, job insecurity, the scaling back of our public services and other serious matters that have been conveniently kicked into the long grass as a result of the endless toing, froing and political games played by our so-called representatives in Westminster, along with a poisonous mainstream media, who continue to misrepresent the reasons why so many people in this country are suffering.

We believe that the Government should guarantee the right to remain for all EU citizens that are living in the UK without delay, and ensure that they are able to take full part in our democratic processes, including the right to vote.

As far as the BFAWU are concerned, people living and working here from other countries are not responsible for the ills of society, or the race to the bottom in relation to basic rights in the workplace. These problems are created by politicians and a rampant corporatocracy, who believe that working people in the UK are nothing more than resources, whose labour is exploited in order to prop up the lifestyles of a wealthy elite.

We had the referendum in 2016 and the decision was made. The government have had three years to get on with it and have failed. The only referendum on the table now, should be in relation to who replaces it.

Ian Hodson (BFAWU National President)

Support the Climate Strike!

The BFAWU urges its members to get involved, if you want a planet fit for your children and Grandchildren we need to take action now.

The last few months and weeks have been amazing. The global movement of school climate strikes and the inspiring actions of Extinction Rebellion have shifted the debate on climate change injecting a new urgency.

The first success of this growing movement has been to force the UK parliament to declare a Climate Emergency. Now we need the action to match the words.

Greta Thunberg has called for a general strike urging others join student striking for climate action. Many trade unionists across the trade union movement have been inspired by the action taken in the last few months by young people determined to defend their future. Now, as trade unionists, let’s stand in solidarity and add our voice to the call for climate action.

Let’s start by building solidarity with the school climate strike on May 24th. Can you...

  • Bring your trade union banner on the Youth Strike 4 Climate protest on Friday 24 May at 11am in Parliament Square in London? Can you get to local demonstrations across Britain (list here)?
  • Take a solidarity photo in your work place with the signs above, showing trade unions stand with students and tweet it? Use hashtags #GlobalStrike4Climate and #TradeUnions4Climate
  • Organise a trade union meeting on the day to discuss the Climate Emergency and what your union is doing to respond?
  • Pass a motion of solidarity in your union/branch? [download Word doc]
  • Share with us at CACC trade union group and others ideas about what we can do to stand in solidarity students in solidarity?

Pledges of practical action might include:

  • Joining or supporting a local action against a climate-damaging project such as airport expansion, fracking or coal mining and many others 
  • A demand to employer(s) to green the workplace (ITUC day of action 26 June
  • Taking climate jobs or Green New Deal motions to your branch, trades council, CLP

Let’s mobilise across the whole of the trade union movement- to put a million climate jobs and a national climate service to deliver a Green New Deal at the heart of the urgent action we need to tackle the climate emergency. 

National Facebook event - invite your friends

Download A3 signs (white background / blue background)

Read more:

National Education Union votes to stand in solidarity with youth strikers

Teachers call for a just transition, for climate change to be integrated into the curriculum, and to oppose reprisals for strikers. 

Members of UCU pledge solidarity with youth strikes

NEC and members across universities and colleges pledge support


Friday, May 24, 2019 - 11:00 to 14:00

film from 15 March strike

Ian Hodson

National President

Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union

Stanborough House

Great North Rd.


Welwyn Garden City





Twitter: @ianbfawu

How Sheffield and the BFAWU are leading the fight to organise young workers

Never underestimate what resolve strength and character working-class people can muster when they are staring adversity in the face, writes RONNIE DRAPER 


It is the city that he refers to when he talks about the lads working down at the docks, who used to have to stand there in gale force winds and rasping rain whipping in from the Mersey, huddled round waiting to be selected for casual work from the so called PEN.

This ignominy of workers, huddling together, trying to keep warm while hoping the gaffer would offer you a break, and give you a shift, was replicated across hundreds of workplaces across the country, indeed the baking industry was one of the worst.

If your face fitted you got picked, if not you were told to try again tomorrow. Your future in the choice of a manager whose finger decided whether it would be your kids’ turn to have full bellies at school this week.

I thought we’d made some progress, that things had moved on for the better, but the reintroduction of zero-hours contracts from the 1970s put paid to those hopes.

It was an era where economic equality coincided with strong trade unions, unions like that of those dock workers ready to join together and take action for improved terms and conditions.

It was 1974 when McDonald’s branched out into the UK, welcomed with open arms by Margaret Thatcher as she opened their Finchley HQ in 1983 — coincidentally the year she was making plans to take on the mine workers’ union the NUM. She saw the McDonald’s blueprint as the future employment for the masses.

Since Finchley opened its doors in 1983 we have seen a decline in trade union membership running in line with a huge increase in low paid and insecure work.

So as general secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) I have been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brave members on picket lines across the country outside McDonald’s and Wetherspoon, young angry trade unionists ready to stand up and fight against these global giants, just like those dockers in Liverpool did to rid themselves of casualisation and low pay.

These courageous, mostly young, low-paid members stood up and took strike action in McDonald’s for the first time in September 2017 and since then we have seen the strike spread like a pebble in a pond to more stores and more cities.

They were joined in October last year by workers from other unions, from Unite the Union, the TGI workers, from the IWGB and IWW workers from Ubereats and Deliveroo, who joined the shut down of a part of the fast food industry. Before these workers took this courageous action it was thought impossible to organise fast food workers into a coordinated group eager to fight back, but they proved the theory wrong.

Working-class people will always find a way. Never underestimate what resolve, strength and character working-class people can muster when they are staring adversity in the face.

Our members have made some very basic demands:

  1. A living wage of £10 an hour at least.
  2. Union recognition and the right to bargain with the employer.
  3. Equal pay regardless of age.
  4. An end to zero-hours contracts.

And they are winning.

  1. McDonald’s partly backed down on zero hours, offering fixed-hour contracts, although there is still work to do.
  2. McDonald’s offered a pay increase of 6.7 per cent.
  3. Wetherspoon abolished youth rates for under-21s.
  4. Increased pay significantly at all striking pubs (a lesson for others).
  5. They’ve sacked bullying bosses, increased notice for shifts, won their holiday entitlements, exposed sexual harassment and much more.

The lesson is simple – trade union organised workplaces are stronger and gain more improvements.

I couldn’t be prouder of our members, they are a shining example to everyone who feels oppressed in the workplace, but I’m also very proud of our movement, which has rallied behind them, a movement that made sure they were not starved into submission.

Support came rushing in from other unions like RMT, Unite, Aslef, NEU and many others, support came from Labour Party branches and constituency Labour parties, and I am particularly grateful to trades councils, who offered support and solidarity from the off.

A great example of this is Sheffield Trades Council who, I’m proud to say, have joined us in building a historic partnership and I applaud them for their vision.

Traditionally trades councils have been a place where union branches from across the spectrum of our movement send delegates to discuss how workers from different unions and different industries can work together for the common good.

They personify collectivity, the idea that whether you work in a call centre or a fast food joint, whether you’re a homecare worker or a steel worker, we have more in common than what divides us.

Our movement is stronger when we work together. It’s time to end the rivalry between unions and build a union movement that puts the needs of workers first, capable of challenging the most inscrutable employer or the most reactionary government.

Strong collective organising and stronger resolve can achieve astounding results.

So I’d like to say to union branches and trades councils – join us, in the TUC year of the young worker, do what Sheffield has done, hire an organiser. Let’s go and talk to young workers, let’s build a movement, a movement that can abolish the destructive practice of zero hours, that can deliver a wage of at least £10 an hour for all and install dignity and pride back into our workplaces and communities.


General Secretary of Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, Ronnie Draper

However you do it Let’s talk about Mental Ill Health




Challenging stress Work related stress and mental ill health are major work safety and health issues. These resources, produced by Hazards Campaign, are intended to assist trade unions in negotiating a comprehensive policy and strategy on mental health which includes a strategy for preventing work related stress and mental ill health, supporting individuals at work with mental ill health and providing a positive mental health work environment.

Hazards Magazine resources:            

An update from Time to Change

However you do it Let’s talk about Mental ill health


Time to Talk Campaign

The Time to Talk Campaign is aiming to raise the issue of mental ill health at your workplace. We need to encourage employers and employees alike to understand the burden placed on individuals when we fail to ensure that we have robust measures in place. If your employer doesn’t think that this is a real concern, then they should check some of the statistics relating to the cost of failing to deal with mental ill health. Speak to your employer and ask them to look at the impact on their business they can find this information at the links we have forwarded in our toolkit.

Let’s make 2019 the year we deal with the growing issue of Mental Ill Health in our workplaces. It’s time to end the stigma and end the discrimination around mental ill health. The following is designed to assist Safety representatives to ensure we tackle what has become one of the biggest issues facing workers today. The National Safety Committee believe we need to take this issue seriously and we would encourage all our branches to take part in the campaign.

What needs to happen?

Strategy for prevention of work related Mental ill health.

High level commitment to challenging the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. This requires senior management to commit and provide the resources.

A stress management policy. That includes setting up a stress steering group to co-ordinate stress risk assessments. Using management stress standards

A recruitment policy that does not discriminate against those with mental health conditions. The company with nothing to fear will welcome the opportunity to ensure it operates a fair recruitment policy.

A review of sickness absence policies to ensure they do not discriminate against those with mental health conditions. Negotiation of disability passport. Flexible working to support individual needs.

Early access to occupational health services.

Training all staff on mental health (jointly with the BFAWU).

As line managers are expected to deal with workers attendance then it’s essential they have been trained to be aware of issues relating to mental ill health.

The provision of an Employee Assistance programme. Strong anti-bullying and harassment procedures. 

If there are Mental Health First Aiders, a system of support for them, including regular meetings?

The BFAWU safety reps and stewards clearly must be involved both in working with their employer around mental health and supporting members with mental health problems this will help in removing the fear, stigma or any discrimination.

Why An Employer needs to Take Mental ill Health Seriously

Mental ill health is a major cause of sickness absence. Conversely, presenteeism - where people attend work when they are not well enough, potentially slowing recovery - can also be an issue connected with mental ill health, as employees may be reluctant to acknowledge or seek help for a mental health issue. Sickness absence and presenteeism both have a significant impact on productivity. The Government-sponsored Thriving at Work report estimates that poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, due to absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.

Responsible employers will take an interest in their employees' wellbeing regardless of the business benefits, but an employer that takes active steps to protect and promote the mental health of its employees can potentially see an impact in absence levels, retention and productivity. Employers have a duty to protect and not harm employees to remove risks to both physical and mental health to control and eliminate practices that may harm workers and to make adjustments. Not everyone with severe mental ill health will know the symptoms it is essential that workplace practices don’t harm their employees.

Managers need to understand stress, distress and mental illness, and how to minimise these and offer effective support, irrespective of whether or not the poor mental health is related to organisational factors. The organisational costs of poor employee mental health extend beyond the direct cost of absence related to mental ill health to, for example, raised staff turnover and lower productivity. Poor management leading to decreased wellbeing can also result in less tangible indirect impacts including reduced employee morale, low levels of engagement, employee errors and erosion of trust. Reputational damage may also occur in the event of a high-profile employment tribunal claim, as long-term mental illness is a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (see Disability discrimination and mental ill health).

The Government-sponsored Thriving at Work report estimates that poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, due to absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.

Promoting good mental health and supporting employees who have a mental health problem can boost employee commitment to and engagement with the organisation, and enhance employee retention, productivity and performance levels.

Sickness absence, staff turnover and employee morale

Whether or not employees have a pre-existing mental health condition, it is clear that workplace practices can impact on their mental wellbeing. Poor workplace practices can lead to significant ill health through stress, burnout and poor management. There is a clear    

financial business case for employers to take positive steps to improve workplace

practices. Office for National Statistics data shows that, in 2016, 15.8 million days were lost because of poor mental health (including stress, depression, anxiety and more serious conditions), accounting for 11.5% of all days lost. However, research has also shown that many employees fear ascribing their absence to mental ill health and will actively cite other reasons.

Being off work for long periods with a mental health problem can affect an individual's ability to cope with the demands of work when he or she returns to the workplace. Extended periods of work inactivity can worsen the physical symptoms of some mental health conditions. However, at least 70% of employees who take absence due to mental ill health do return to work and 83% of employers say that they do not regret hiring someone

who develops or has a mental health problem. Good return-to-work policies, put into action, are fundamental for successful return to work (see Action plans).

If employers do not promote good mental health and support employees who have a mental health condition effectively, this can result in increased staff turnover. Employees who are stressed or have a mental illness, and who do not feel supported by their employer, are more likely to consider leaving the organisation. It is often the case that employees' work situation aggravates their mental ill health. As well as considering resigning from the organisation, which could be seen as a natural and healthy reaction to remove themselves from harm, employees with a mental health condition may become disengaged from the organisation if they do not feel supported. If even one employee experiences low morale, this can affect employees within the wider team. Therefore, employers that do not manage mental wellbeing may experience low morale among wider sections of staff.

Lost productivity and "presenteeism"

Lost productivity among employees who continue to work despite having a significant mental health problem is a major component of the total cost of mental ill health at work. Many employees find it difficult to raise the matters that are causing them stress and distress and that can lead to illness, for example a heavy workload, poor work relations, bad management or unclear work roles, because they are fearful of the repercussions.

Many employees with a pre-existing mental health problem prefer not to disclose it to their employer, and continue to work even though their mental health may be impacting on their ability to do their job. The practice of employees continuing to work even though unwell is known as "presenteeism". Employees in professional jobs and on executive grades are particularly prone to attend work when they are unwell mentally because they are concerned about being stigmatised if they are known to have a mental health problem. In addition, some employees may be concerned that their career could suffer if they take time off sick.

Disability discrimination and mental ill health

Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. For a mental illness to fall within the definition of disability, an employee has to show that he or she has a mental or physical impairment; the impairment affects his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities; the adverse impact of the impairment is substantial; and the adverse impact is long term.

Mental impairment covers a wide spectrum relating to mental functioning, including conditions with symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, panic attacks, phobias or unshared perceptions, in addition to mental illnesses.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments in the case of those coming within the definition of having a disability is a unique feature of disability discrimination law, and a failure to comply with the duty constitutes discrimination under s.21 of the Equality Act 2010, unless the employer lacks relevant knowledge of the employee's disability.

The risk of encountering stigma at work and fear of being discriminated against as a result of having a mental health condition understandably prompts some employees to disguise a problem, attributing their underperformance or absence from work to physical health issues. This makes it hard for people with an illness to receive the support they need in terms of reasonable adjustments and professional help. The onus is on employers to make it possible by exhibiting an explicit and demonstrable zero tolerance approach to stigma, from the top of the organisation. It will then be easier for them to fulfil their legal duties concerning the employment of people with disabilities.

Accidents at work

There is an association between mental ill health and workplace accidents; employees who are stressed, anxious or depressed may find it harder to focus on a task. Employers have a duty of care to manage all potential sources of risk, including those arising from mental ill health.

Corporate governance and reputational risk

Failing to manage employees' mental health can damage an organisation's reputation as an employer, particularly if this results in high-profile legal action, for example an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim. Conversely, positioning the organisation as a mentally healthy workplace through the development of positive management and effective wellbeing strategies can strengthen its reputation as a good employer and its corporate responsibility profile

Further information and resources

Any employer who wants to address mental health issues in the workplace needs to look much wider than MHFA, and that is best done in co-operation with unions.

Public Health England and Business in the Community have produced a toolkit for employers on what they should do. This says a good policy will




Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call) Email:


Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.


Mind Infoline

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday) or text 86463


Mind provides confidential mental health information services.

With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental health problems, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind works in partnership with around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line

Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (9.30am - 4pm Monday to Friday) Email: online contact form


Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England.


Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)


Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support to people with mental health problems and those who support them.

The Mix

Telephone: 0808 808 4994 (11am-11pm, free to call) Email: Helpline email form

Crisis Support: Text 'THEMIX' to 85258.


The Mix provides judgement-free information and support to young people aged 13-25 on a range of issues including mental health problems. Young people can access the Mix's support via phone, email, webchat, peer to peer and counselling services.


Telephone: 0800 1111 Website:

ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor for free about anything - no problem is too big or too small.




Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself. Elefriends is run

by Mind.

If you're a carer needing support you can contact all of the above as well as Direct

and the Carers Trust, both of whom are able to provide support and advice on any issues affecting you.

What should I do if I'm supporting someone in a crisis?

If the person seems really unwell, and you are worried about their safety, you should encourage them to seek help.

How to support someone in crisis

Further reading and resources






Training Courses Available dates

17 January 20 Course already fully booked

Types of courses

What are Mental Health First Aiders

Mental health first-aiders are trained to recognise the signs of mental ill health and provide initial support, in much the same way that physical first-aiders provide immediate help in response to an injury or physical illness to prevent the condition worsening.

Introducing mental health first-aid provision in the workplace may mean that employees are able to access help at an early stage, to prevent a mental health issue developing or becoming more serious. It can also promote a workplace culture where people who experience ongoing mental ill health feel supported and able to continue working, or to return to work successfully after periods of absence. Further


You can find out about the many courses offered by the GFTU at the following website,


Northern College25 January

Fox's Kirkham Min 15 Max 20 Bookings via John Fox

28 Feb No,4 Region Min 15 Max 20

TBC Warburtons Enfield Min 15 Max 20 Booking via Project Worker


BFAWU announces launch of Sexual Harassment campaign and supported by our sisters from Women against rape.

Has the #MeToo movement helped workers in the fast food and hospitality
industry to speak out about sexual violence at work and win protection?
Women Against Rape reports.
Sexual violence in the hospitality industry is much more common than we all think.
We don’t exactly know how common because most people don’t tell anyone.
Abusers count on the victim being afraid to report it, scared that she may lose her job if she is not believed or even if she is.
Anyone on low pay, zero hours contracts, or with insecure immigration status, and who is not a union member, is particularly vulnerable, especially to managers or colleagues in senior positions. 
Many fast food workers are teenagers and don’t know their rights, and all are seen as disposable. And those of us who have children to feed are terrified of losing our job and our housing. Austerity cuts, especially to welfare benefits, which have targeted women, and the social housing crisis, have made women on low wages more vulnerable to sexual violence as we can no longer
rely on benefits to survive.
But things are changing. Decades of campaigning by organisations like ours, individual women and other survivors who fought back, and the advent of social media have enabled global movements like #MeToo. This has encouraged workers in the hospitality industry to come forward.
IN THE UNITED STATES, in September 2018, hundreds of McDonald’s women workers in the US launched 10-day strike across many states. Organizing with the Fight for $15 campaign, which is demanding a living wage for all workers, they demanded that McDonald’s stop sexual harassment in its workplaces.
There is an ongoing legal battle in the US: the multinational company denies liability for the sexual harassment that has been reported, instead blaming each incident on the local franchise manager who may have to pay damages. McDonald’s local branches have been sued several times, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was appealed to again in May when 10 women filed sexuaharassmencomplaints.
The Times Up Legal Defense Fund says they offer support to selected cases of those who experience sexual harassment in the workplace. We don’t know how many women have been able to use it.
IN THE UK TOO some workers have come forward. We have heard about different  types of sexual abuse: sexual comments and propositions, men exposing themselves, groping/sexual assault, even rape.
But it is hard to speak out if you don’t know your rights and you don’t know if your union is going to back you or you don’t have a union. The Bakers’ Union has come to Women Against Rape because it wants to ensure that workers can report any abuse, win justice and stop any further violence. We are very glad about that and want to support in every way we can.
Sexual abuse comes from customers, or from colleagues. But it is nastier and more worrying when it is someone abusing their position of authority, such as a manager who assumes he is entitled to impose his will on staff, without your consent.
Sexual abuse can also be racist or discriminatory in other ways. We work on such cases with other groups based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in London: All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Legal Action for Women, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)… on the basis of collective self-help.
To get away with it, an abuser may also accuse you of being complicit in some way (like you were seen acting flirty or you had sex with him in the past) – they often turn on the charm in public and only behave badly in private when no one is watching.
They may say you are emotional or hysterical.
Most victims of sexual abuse are women and girls, but we also know of men who are abused by other men. You may think you are the only one, but most likely other colleagues have faced the same at the hands of other men, and the man who is violating you has also violated others.
It is a basic human right to be safe at work, and if that is violated, you should get protection, justice and compensation and know that he’s not going to do the same to another colleague.
Whatever the particular circumstances, sexual harassment and rape are intimate crimes and particularly humiliating and traumatic compared to other injuries at work.
Some people have been abused in childhood and the trauma they have tried to bury in order to function is triggered by being abused again as an adult, taking them right back to the powerlessness they felt as a child.
Rape is a serious violent crime – many people suffer the effects for life, and can never trust anyone. There may be serious injury to mental health and physical disability. Victims may be unable to work, losing their income, their housing, their
marriage, etc. The effects can be catastrophic. It is even worse when there is no support or official acknowledgement, and the perpetrator never faces any form of punishment or justice.
Many women also suffer domestic violence at home. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women are victims at some time. It wears you down, isolating you and undermining your confidence. If it’s happening to you, please seek help. There are women’s refuges that can help you identify controlling and violent behaviour, help you plan your escape, and support you through the practicalities. (Refuge & WomenAid)
Some men threaten to harm the children or warn that social services will take them away if you complain.
Women denied immigration status have been forced by the “hostile environment” into destitution. Many have no choice but to do unpaid cleaning, caring, sex and other work in exchange for a roof over their own and their children’s heads, and food on the table: #UsToo.
WAR’s Refuge from Rape and Destitution Campaighighlights the vulnerable and dangerous position forced upon this hidden workforce of immigrant women who are denied their legal right to work, access to any benefits and “public funds”.
Seeking help from the police when you haven’t established your right to stay can get you turned in to the Home Office, detained and deported. Violent men and exploitative employers know that and take advantage of it.
A woman, newly employed as a school teaching assistant, experienced a pattern of suggestive comments and intimate touching from a senior male teacher. She hadn’t joined the union yet and was denied help. She tried to avoid him but the constant threat made her very anxious. Her employer brushed it off as nobody had witnessed it. We helped her find out her rights online. She wrote to the employer and was then informed of disciplinary proceedings against her harasser. She suffered anxiously for several weeks only to be told that it wasn't an official process just an "informal investigation." She was finally offered a written apology.
A civil servant was raped by a senior work colleague during a work trip. She told her manager a few days later. They said she was the fourth person to report this man yet they still didn't deal with it properly. Human Resources did a token investigation and said her account didn't match up with train times, etc. But rape trauma can distort our memory about such details. A later manager was more supportive and suggested she consider reporting it to the police. By now it was two years after the attack. She couldn’t face going through the gruelling process of a full investigation. But she reported him to the police, so if other women report him the police can contact her and her testimony may help strengthen the case against this rapist.
A single woman from Cameroon was made destitute after her immigration claim was refused; she was forced into doing housework and childcare in exchange for
accommodation and food. When the husband of the household started raping her, she had nowhere else to go to escape. He threatened to report her to the Home Office if she told his wife, so she had to suffer months of horrific abuse until we helped her find a lawyer.
A mother from Nigeria living in similar circumstances tried to get help to reopen her asylum claim and have access to hostel accommodation. Shockingly, the lawyer she saw raped her and then used her precarious immigration status to frighten her from reporting him.
We heard from the Bakers Union about a particular McDonald’s manager who
sexually abused women staff. When they reported him higher up, he was moved to another branch. But the women in the new branch were warned about him by his earlier victims and they collectively complained and got him sacked. That’s solidarity among women workers, a form of collective self-defence!
Cases have been fought by the Bakers Union, and with help from a lawyer, some
won compensation. But they were forced to sign a confidentiality agreement – not to speak about it, or publicise it. This means the company keeps it hushed up, and if no other action is taken the man remains free to do the same to another vulnerable worker. But they won important official acknowledgement of their suffering and got financial help towards rebuilding their life.
The more we make these companies pay, the more we must find ways to publicise it so others know they are not alone. This in turn puts pressure on the company to stop men sexually abusing their power.
Whether to report violence to the police and/or the employer is always a delicate decision. You may want to contact the Bakers Union to talk this through. They are committed to providing support and helping to build a movement to tackle sexual violence, as they are doing against workplace injuries with their #McBurns Campaign.
Some things you need to consider might include: what evidence is there to back up your story – did anyone witness anything? Do you have any injuries? Did you take photos of them? Were they recorded with a GP or a hospital? Do you have a clear memory of what happened, or was it hampered by drink or drugs? You are not to blame for what happened to you, and your report should be believed and investigated thoroughly and impartially.
If your employer acts against the man, the man could be removed or disciplined and you could get support or compensation to help you recover. In some cases, unfortunately, the victim is moved to another location.
If you go to the police, they should investigate, and if it goes to court it could result in the man being convicted. But that would only be likely if there was strong evidence to support what you say and prove you did not consent.
In some instances, the man has done it before and similar cases can be joined in court to make a stronger argument. But each case must have strong enough evidence to stand alone.
If you are not believed, or the man counter-accuses you of something and he is believed, you may end up in a weaker position. In this case, the man may think he can do it again, to you or to someone else.
It is you who should make the decision on whether to report or not as you are on the spot and in the best position to weigh it all up. But you are stronger when you are not alone; so get information about your rights and get support from others.
If you are thinking of reporting to the police, take a look at our online Justice is Your Right which explains in plain language each step of the criminal justice process. It answers basic questions like: Should I report to the police? Should I get a medical/forensic examination? But it doesn’t go into sexual violence in the workplace – we are working to update that.
Victims need information about their rights, to help make informed choices, especially about how best to handle the police. Our Guide spells out the actual experiences women have had going through the legal process, rather than the official line on what is supposed to happen but often doesn’t. It explains common problems that come up and how to get the best out of a situation. Many women have told us they find our Guide invaluable.
It’s frightening and embarrassing when abuse happens to you. We encourage people to tell someone they trust, starting with a good friend or relative. Get them to support you to maybe seek other help. You may get support and advice from the Bakers Union, even if you are not yet a member.
If you have suffered anything like this, or witnessed it happening, get in touch, we want to hear from you. Please contact the Bakers Union, and/or Women Against Rape with any questions and experiences, so that we can work together to defend your rights.
You don’t have to put up with it! Let’s build a strong movement to end sexual violence everywhere. Let employers and their friends in high places know that they will not get away with it any more! Women Against Rape is based at Crossroads Women Centre in London. We provide support and legal information based on self-help. Informed by our casework we campaign for justice and protection for women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual or domestic violence. We work closely with other organisations at the Women’s Centre, particularly Black Women’s Rape Action Project, and the All African Women’s Group – a self-organised group of women seeking asylum, many of whom fled rape and are fighting for a place of safety in the UK.
Contact Women Against Rape
Read more Refuge from Rape and Destitution Campaign
Crossroads Women Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX Phone 020
7482 2496

Spoonstrikers Receive Bumper Pay Rise

Photo Credit: Raid Studios: Ajit Dutta

Wetherspoons workers in Brighton  pubs are celebrating a bumper pay rise following their historic first strike in October . In addition to the pay rises announced, but not detailed, by JD Wetherspoons in their profits warning 07 November 2018, they have been put on a higher pay rate, earning an extra 60p an hour.

This win for the first workers to go out on strike at Wetherspoons adds to the list of victories the workers have experienced since coming together into into a trade union and going on strike for the first time in the pub chain’s history. Their actions have benefited both themselves and workers across the pub chain which has xxxx branches across the UK:

  • The annual pay rise was brought forward from early 2019 to November shortly after the strike was announced.  
  • In the same pay rise, pubs across the country were promised an extra £1 an hour between midnight and 5am, and the 18-20 pay band was removed.
  • Significant rota issues in both pubs were addressed, including the abolition of overnight shifts.
  • Bullying managers were held to account, leading to a management reshuffle and a member of staff successfully appealing their unfair demotion.
  • Workers have continued to organise, expand, and build the campaign to create the change they feel they deserve at Wetherspoons.  

Victoria Jordan, a shift leader at the Post and Telegraph, said  

“Managers told us we have no support, that we would be ignored and quickly forgotten about – but we proved them wrong. If two pubs in the company can create this much change, imagine what we will achieve as we grow. We are already winning.”

Chris Heppell, kitchen team leader at the Post and Telegraph said

“By organising into a trade union we’ve improved our pubs, won a substantial pay rise for Brighton and changed things we couldn’t have changed alone. We’ve made the company listen to us and take action. We will keep building our union. We want every Wetherspoons worker in the country to be paid a wage we can thrive on. And to have a say in all of the decisions that affect our working lives.”

Elsie Bradley Middle, a bar associate at the Post and Telegraph said

“The pay rise that has come into effect this month has shown that our organising really does work. On top of the company wide increase, we’ve won an additional 40p pay rise for all Brighton pubs. If we can achieve that with just two Brighton pubs striking imagine what we can do when we continue to build and show our strength. This win is just the beginning, join us in the movement.”

Wetherspoons workers across the UK are being encouraged to get in touch with the campaign. They can contact the Wetherspoons strikers by emailing

The campaign will continue to fight for a living wage of at least £10 an hour, including equal wages for all ages, security of hours and for union recognition.

Notes to editors:

For further information or to organise interviews with Wetherspoons workers please contact Owen Espley – Mobile: +44 (0)7861 362 797  / oespley[@]


BFAWU Renews contract with provider of financial advice to members

The Bakers Foods & Allied Workers Union has renewed the contract with The Lighthouse Group as their preferred provider of expert financial advice to its members. This includes advice on financial planning, mortgages and investments.

General Secretary, Ronnie Draper, commented: “We are delighted to have secured this contract renewal with Lighthouse, which will enable us to continue to ensure that our members are able to access financial planning assistance from a reliable and well reputed organisation, on a truly national basis. We look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with Lighthouse and ensuring that our members are able to secure quality service and consistent professional financial advice”.

Malcolm Streatfield, Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse commented: “The Board is very pleased that we have secured this contract renewal with the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), which further serves to endorse provides further endorsement of the quality of service and financial planning support which Lighthouse Financial Advice provides to all participating members of our affinity group partners. We very much look forward to progressing further our relationship with BFAWU over the years ahead. The Board remains committed to developing further our affinity partnerships throughout the UK”.

Any members wanting to arrange a complimentary, no obligation, initial appointment with one of their advisers should call 08000 85 85 90, or email;

More details can be found on the BFAWU website at: