A new study has suggested almost one in five food workers may have run out of food because of a lack of money during the pandemic.
The shocking figure comes from a new report being launched by the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union which found that:
- 19% had run out of food because of a lack of money
- 40% had eaten less than they should because of a lack of cash
- Over a third (35%) ate less to make sure others in the house got a meal
- 21% relied on food from friends and relatives
- More than 7% had experience of using food banks
The scale of food poverty amongst food workers is shameful and represents a clear need to enshrine the right to food in law.
One female food retail responding as part of the research said: “The pay is terrible everywhere in these roles to be honest it’s not enough to cover bills and food - it’s just not good enough.”
While a male food production worker told the study: “I'm currently minimum wage, zero hours. A pay rise would mean I could start to get some more independence and perhaps escape what is a very difficult and unhealthy situation at home.”
The report will be formally launched at an event during the Scottish Trades Union Congress calling for new ‘right to food’ legislation and features contributions from over 200 workers from across the UK’s food production, distribution, food retail, hygiene, farming and fast food sectors.
Commenting on the Right to Food report, General Secretary Sarah Woolley said: “Our report highlights the shameful truth of food poverty in the food industry. No one should go without food in the 6th richest country in the world yet shamefully, too many food workers are struggling to earn enough to purchase the very food they produce.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the real key workers in this country - we can't allow them to be failed any longer. We can’t sit back while people are struggling to survive.
“The time is right for the right to food to be enshrined in law, to make food truly accessible, affordable, healthy, safe to eat and fairly produced by well-paid and protected staff throughout the food sector.”
To see the full report, please go to: https://bit.ly/BFAWU_RightToFoodReport
This year as I write about International Workers Memorial Day 2021, I would like to record thanks to all those BFAWU Safety Reps who have spent the last year, keeping workers safe and healthy at work. You have not only stood up for your members, but you have saved thousands of lives and everyone owes you a huge debt of gratitude. We know that where there is a strong organised active trade union, workers are twice as safe. Your role has not only saved the lives of your work and trade union colleagues, but the lives of your family and others in your community.
March 11th, 2021 marked the first anniversary of when the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Since then over 150,000 people have died in the UK and thousands more have been infected and thousands have been left with long term ill health and disabilities. On April 28th 2021 International Workers Memorial Day, we will be remembering all those people who have died because of work and their numbers will include the 14,000+ workers who have died because of Covid-19. Many of their names will be unknown, many will not be counted as work related deaths or reported to the HSE RIDDOR and many of them will not have been tested, hospitalised or even counted as Covid related deaths, because early in the pandemic if you weren’t tested then you weren’t counted.
During the year the Hazards Campaign has tried hard to hold employers, enforcement authorities and Government to account for the deaths and dangers workers and our communities have faced, including campaigning for a zero-covid strategy to reduce the transmission rates in our communities alongside
International Workers Memorial Day has twin aims, to Remember the Dead but also to Fight for the Living and in addition the ITUC prioritise a theme and this year it is about ensuring that Health and Safety is a Fundamental Right for all workers.
Covid-19 has exposed the occupational health crisis in the UK. Decades of underfunding of our public health service, the public health organisations, health and safety enforcement and hundreds of thousands of workers not in organised trade unions, many on casual and zero hour contracts, low pay and exposed to hazardous substances, chemicals and toxic workplaces alongside those in trade unions shackled by anti trade union legislation.
The campaign for the fundamental right of all workers to safe and healthy work is not just a global campaign but is just as relevant and necessary in the UK. The pandemic has exposed the unequal exposure to the risks of infection by covid-19, the disproportionate impact of covid-19 on BAME workers, those experiencing in-work poverty, those with underlying health conditions caused in the main because of previous unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and those more at risk because they are unable to work from home and the risks to their health were not controlled by a precautionary response in risk assessments, including PPE.
Those workers who are unable to get full pay when they are sick or when they were required to self isolate are more likely to continue to work when they are feeling a little unwell, unlikely to stay at home if a family member or close contact has tested positive and unlikely to go for a test or download an app if it means they will not be paid. The pandemic has exposed those workplaces that place profit before peoples lives and their health and safety is not enforced by the authorities.
International Workers Memorial day is not just about those who have died this year because of Covid. Every year more than 50,000 people die in the UK because of life shortening illnesses because of their work. Hundreds die by suicide because they have been subjected to bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, excessive workloads and workplace stress leading to mental ill health and mental anguish. This year the HSE will report just over 111 deaths through workplace incidents but this doesn’t include those that die on the roads, in air crashes, working at sea or on the railways and doesn’t include the 14,000 plus who have died because of Covid.
No-one should die because of work, because their employer refused to ensure that all the risks to their health and safety were controlled. No-one elses loved one should have to suffer the death of their husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter. So on International Workers Memorial Day in 2021 we Remember our dead and together we will vow to Fight like hell for the living and to secure the fundamental right for safe and healthy work for all!
Links to more information and films:
- Hazards Campaign Whole Story the true number of people who have died over the last 12 months because of work - http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/thewholestory
- Resources are available to purchase from GMHC - which include purple ribbons, face coverings, car stickers, and posters - https://gmhazards.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Resources-to-support-IWMD21.pdf
- A resource sheet which explains information about IWMD21 can be found at:
- International events - 28april.org
- Hazards magazine information and resources - https://www.hazards.org/wmd/background.htm
- Hazards Campaign information and resources - http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/workers-memorial-day
- TUC information and resources - https://www.tuc.org.uk/international-workers-memorial-day-iwmd
- Films to use on # IWMD21
v Fallen tears https://youtu.be/HdXlCUM9IBI
v What is International Workers’ Memorial Day https://youtu.be/OB80D0MD0w0
On 3 and 4 February 2021, the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal of the North Wales building workers who were prosecuted for picketing during the 1972 national building workers strike. Six received prison sentences and sixteen received suspended prison sentences. They have always maintained their innocence of all charges.
The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign was launched in 2006 to overturn this miscarriage of justice. The Campaign represents twelve pickets including Dennis Warren (deceased), John McKinsie Jones, Kenneth O’Shea (deceased), John Clee, William Pierce, Terence Renshaw, Patrick Kevin Butcher, Bernard Williams, Alfred James (deceased), Samuel Roy Warburton (deceased), Graham Roberts (deceased) and John Kenneth Seaburg (deceased).
The appeal has come about after the Campaign was able to persuade the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer the cases to the Court of Appeal. It has done so on two grounds based upon evidence discovered in the National Archives by the Campaign’s secretary and Researcher, Eileen Turnbull:
(i) original witness statements had been destroyed by the police and this fact had not been disclosed to the defence counsel or the court; and
(ii) the broadcast of a highly prejudicial documentary on ITV during the first trial, Red under the Bed, the content of which was contributed to by a covert agency within the Foreign Office known as the Information Research Department.
Terry Renshaw, speaking on behalf of the pickets, said,
“We are looking forward to finally having our day in court to show that we were victims of a miscarriage of justice. Without the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign we would not be where we are today. We owe a great debt of thanks to them for the tireless work that they have carried out.”
The Campaign’s Chairperson, Harry Chadwick, paid tribute to the support of trade unions,
“We have had tremendous support from BFAWU. We will never forget the warm welcome and solidarity shown to us at the events that we have travelled to during the past 15 years. On behalf of the pickets and campaign, a heartfelt thank you.”
The political direction of the Labour Party in recent months, along with the promotion of MPs who worked tirelessly to ensure that the Party lost both the 2017 and 2019 elections, has given members cause for concern. There is also a clear agenda to alienate any MP considered to be supportive of socialism and move them to the backbenches.
The announcement by the Government to end workplace learning is a devastating blow for working people who, over the last 20 years, have had the opportunity to improve their life skills, benefiting both employers and employees. Unionlearn have been helping and supporting around 200,000 people a year across the whole of England, and deserve to be saved. Over the last ten years, the BFAWU alone has enabled over 30,000 people in England to achieve, or work towards achieving, a formal qualification.
The Government are not just taking some of the funding: they are taking all of it. They are completely shutting it down, putting over 100 people across England out of work and bringing to an abrupt end the UK’s aim of removing barriers to learning. The UK drive to improve literacy, numeracy and ICT skills will now become a thing of the past, resulting in the inability for us to have a direct impact on employability in the country. This action will take away the potential for people to achieve and up-skill. It will also throw many dedicated people onto the dole at a time when the UK is expected to see rocketing unemployment.
What does this mean? It means:
- No more free courses
- No more redundancy support
- No more help for the Union Learning Representatives
- No more support for the working people of this country
- No more Project Workers on their sites
What can you do?
The link below will take you to an online petition. If you have already filled this in, then thank you; if you have not, please complete it. Please also share it with everyone you know, encouraging them to also sign it, to show your support for Unionlearn:
We cannot let this vital source of educational support be withdrawn without a fight!
A Message For Our Greggs Members From The General Secretary, Sarah Woolley
The news yesterday from Greggs is not where any of us wanted to be, or indeed expected would come, with such a strong start to the year. As an ex-Greggs employee, my heart goes out to each and every member that’s impacted by the announcement and I want to reassure you that the BFAWU will do everything we can for you over the coming weeks, and when we come out of the other side of the process.
We know there are going to be lots of questions (some we wont be able to answer straight away), but we want you to ask them anyway - there is no such thing as a stupid question; if you're thinking it, someone else will be too. We are here to make sure your voices are heard and your questions are answered.
It is important that you know who your reps are through this process. If you are at work, there is a list of Reps on the 'back office' under the 'people' section in the Unions area. In the bakeries, there should be a list on the notice boards.
If you're not at work, please contact your local Full-Time Official. If you haven’t got a number for your Rep, they will point you in the right direction. Their numbers can be found on our on our website under contacts
As Roger said in his message yesterday, Greggs is a strong company and we have always worked well together; the business and Trade Unions across the board especially in difficult times. This will be no different.
We will get through this and come out of the other side together; stronger and ready to move forward.
For the YouTube version of this statement, please click here
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of our former National President: Brother Dennis Nash.
Dennis joined our union in 1976, working at Telfers in Northampton, where he was elected as Branch Secretary. He held several other roles in our Trade Union, including serving for many years on our National Executive Council and culminating in being elected as National President in 1994: a position that he held until his retirement in 1999.
Dennis was an inspirational trade unionist who committed his life to our movement. He brought many assets to the role of National President including his knowledge, wit, warmth and genuine camaraderie. He inspired those who spent time in his company or heard him speak, being a great orator.
He laid down some strong foundations in our union, particularly in the area of health and safety. Probably his most exceptional achievement and legacy will be the establishment of the first national Credit Union for trade unionists; an achievement that turned Dennis into a pioneer that led the way in the Labour and Trade Union movement.
Even after retirement, he continued to maintain contact was always inquiring about how the Union was doing. He was always supportive and always ready to offer any knowledge he could.
Dennis will be sadly missed and will always have a place in our hearts. We offer our deepest condolences to his widow, Elsie, and to all his family.
Workers and ex-workers at Papa John’s were joined by community supporters (including Olivia Blake MP) today (Saturday) outside Papa John’s on Ecclesall Road to demand unpaid wages.
Workers were demanding wages owed to them whilst they worked for a previous franchise owner. Workers complained they were owed wages for work completed before the franchise was transferred from previous owner, Tofur Ali, in June. Some claim their wages for this period amounted to less than the legal minimum wage.
Workers said that they had faced unsanitary conditions including no access to private toilets, and no breaks during long shifts whilst the store remained open throughout the lockdown.
On 27 June 2020, workers arrived to find their store was closed. Workers claimed they were not told that the store would be closed temporarily and the franchise, which covers all Sheffield Papa John's stores, had been transferred to a new franchisee. The previous franchisee, Tofur Ali is disqualified from acting as a company director for conduct with another company(2).
In the month since, Tofur Ali has not paid workers the full pay they are owed, including all hourly wages at the legal minimum wage and delivery allowances. Some workers said they will be unable to pay rent and bills next week if they are not paid. They were willing to show evidence of the hours worked and amounts paid.
Karen Cabajar, a former worker at Papa John’s, and member of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) (3), who is still owed money said: “I really thought that we would just have to move on and forget about what happened. It feels so reassuring to come together with my coworkers, with the support of the union and wider Sheffield community. It is important for workers and employers across Sheffield to see this action so that they know that it is unacceptable to treat workers this way and there will always be consequences. My message to other workers would be to contact Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise. (4) There are people who will support you to get the treatment that you deserve.”
Ian Hodson, President of the BFAWU, the Papa John’s workers’ union, said: “Papa John’s states on its website: ‘People Are Priority Always’. This is a hollow statement when these workers were willing to put themselves and their families at risk by working during lockdown and Papa John’s repays them - by not paying them! As a result of the action, the current franchise owner has agreed to meet the union on Monday at 10am to resolve the issue and pay what is owed.”
Campaigners said the actions of Papa John’s mirrored those in Leicester where injustice in the labour market, with powerful corporations able to absolve themselves of responsibility for what happened in their supply chains, were being highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paul Blomfiend MP (Sheffield Central), said: “The Covid crisis has highlighted the exploitation facing too many workers, particularly in the food and drink sector. As we look to the future people expect things to change and they must. Companies like Papa Johns must treat their staff fairly.”
In 2017, researchers from Middlesex University estimated that wage theft, where workers are not paid wages they are owed or unlawful deductions are made, is widespread across the country with at least 2 million workers in Britain losing over £3 billion in unpaid holiday pay and wages each year. (5) It is said to particularly affect the low paid and those on insecure contracts.
Major new research looking at the factors that have made the Sheffield City Region, the UK’s “Low Pay Capital” will be launched this week (6). The research by academics at Sheffield Hallam, Staffordshire and Manchester Metropolitan Universities will be discussed during an online zoom event “Precarity is the Pandemic” at 7pm Wednesday 29 July 2020) organised by Sheffield Trades Council and anti-poverty group War on Want.
Dr Bob Jeffrey, a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam and a lead researcher on low pay in Sheffield said: “The situation faced by these workers at Papa John's is emblematic of the wider conditions faced by low paid and precarious workers that we document in our report. Labour market deregulation, a lack of enforceable employment rights and the absence of trade unions gives unscrupulous employers a blank cheque to withhold legal entitlements to breaks, fail to follow health and safety rules, even fail to provide toilet access, or just plain and simple illegal non-payment of wages owed.”
Workers who are facing issues such as wage theft, low pay and health and safety concerns can get in touch with Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise via Facebook, Twitter (@SheffPayRise) or by email ([email protected]).
Notes to editors: For further information please get in touch with Rohan Kon, Organiser with Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise on [email protected] / Mobile: 07747004870
- High res photos from the protest are available here: https://bit.ly/SNAPFlickr
- Information relating to Tofur Ali’s disqualification is available here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/disqualified-officers/natural/B0iwNT657driOOKFR1AAxZJ2OcQ
- The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union [BFAWU] is the largest independent trade union in the food sector in the British Isles, and supports workers across the food manufacturing, fast food and hospitality industries.
- Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise is a campaign bringing together low wage workers to demand fair pay, hours and union rights. It is supported by The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) and Sheffield TUC (Trades Union Council).
- See Unpaid Britain: wage default in the British labour market Nick Clark and Eva Herman, Middlesex University November 2017 https://www.mdx.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/440531/Final-Unpaid-Britain-report.pdf
- Embargoed copies of the research “Tackling Labour Market Injustice and Organising Workers: The view from a northern Heartland” and Executive Summary and accompanying press release are available here: https://bit.ly/EmbargoTacklingInjustice
It has come to the attention of our Union that there has been a small number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the Moy Park site in Ballymena. As a Union, we are extremely concerned about this development and are doing all we can to keep updated with this issue. We have been in contact with the employer to ensure they are doing all they can to help and support employees, both the positive tested cases and those employees that may have been in contact with them. The company has assured us that the track and trace procedure in place has located anyone that may potentially have come into contact with the confirmed cases and these employees have been sent off site to self-isolate. If any employee believes this is not the case and has not happened please get in touch asap. We have also reiterated the need for everyone at the site to ensure social distancing at 2 meters remains in place and that the hand washing and PPE measures are still ongoing and being adhered too at all times. We have called on the company to ensure no employee suffers a financial loss should they be impacted by this outbreak. Our on-site representatives are in daily contact with the employer so if you have any concerns please do not hesitate to bring them to our attention.
If you feel you need to report anything to us in confidence please contact us with the Regional Office whose details located on our website or on the union notice board.
We are sending our best wishes to all affected employees at this time.
Region 7 – Northern Ireland
As attention moves to reopening the economy following the crisis, we are still expecting the highest levels of protection for working people.
During this crisis we have been in regular contact with key employees of the HSE and received support from both the TUC and Hazards. Many of those that work in the Food Industry have continued to attend work throughout, working together with employers and our safety representatives to put in place measures to protect people. Some of these measures, which have been constantly under review, have included:
- more frequent safety meetings
- staggered start times
- relocation of hand washing facilities to outside entry points
- installation of internal washing stations
- temperature checks on workers
- ensuring the provision of PPE risk assessments to build in social distancing measures
Moving forward, we expect that:
- employers put measures in place to notify anyone who may be at risk having come into contact with someone who has notified them that they have the symptoms
- full sick pay is provided in these circumstances
- if anyone does become infected work areas/place should close for deep cleaning
We have provided a bullet point "Workplace Assessment" checklist below to assist in your workplace assessment.
Don’t forget that a trade union is its member. It is critical that members are informed and consulted about improving control of the risk in the workplace and that they have the opportunity to raise concerns and receive feedback and all information that will impact on them. If you have any concerns with your working practices or returning to work, ask your employer for a copy of the Risk Assessment that should have been carried out, also asking them to provide any new working procedure. If your employer is not following the guidelines issued by the Government then you should alert your BFAWU representative or, if you are unable to contact them, then contact your regional official whose details are listed on the Contacts Page of this website.
Health and Safety meetings and Risk Assessments
As part of the ongoing process the Health and Safety Meeting should be updated and provided with Risk Assessments that have been conducted. These Assessments should be reviewed and improved to ensure all the risks are controlled. Meetings can be conducted daily or weekly, alongside a full Health and Safety meeting, in line with the Brown Book Safety Representatives and Committees 1977. Further details can be found at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/BrownBook2015.pdf
- Stop all non-essential visitors
- Temperature checks at the beginning of shift
- Monitor congestion to enable social distancing of 2 metres:
- Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact
- Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact
- Promote good hygiene, wash or clean hands before entering or leaving premises
- Provide the necessary facilities to do this, warm water soap or hand sanitiser
- Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, delivery areas
- Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.
- Avoid public transport only use if there is no choice
- Car sharing would only be recommended if living in the same household
- Travel alone in own transport if this is available to you
- Use a bicycle if this is feasible or walk if in walking distance
- Every effort made to provide additional parking spaces for cars and bicycles
ENHANCED CLEANING IN THE WORKPLACE
- Enhanced and regular cleaning across all areas of the workplace utilising approved cleaning products includes all building touch points
- Taps and washing facilities
- Toilet flush and seats
- Door handles and pushes plates
- Hand rails on staircases and corridors
- Lift and hoist controls
- Machinery and equipment controls
- Food preparation and eating surfaces
- Telephone equipment
- Key boards, photocopiers and other office equipment
- Rubbish collection and storage points should be increased and emptied regularly throughout and at the end of each day.
CANTEENS CAFES AND EATING AREAS
- Dedicated eating areas should be identified
- Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion, 2 metre rule
- Create space and manage sitting 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating
- Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving
- Keep equipment clean between use, kettles, microwaves etc.
- Ask workforce to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home
- Where catering is provided, it should be pre-prepared and wrapped food only
- Crockery, eating utensils, cups (unless from dispenser) etc. should not be used
- Payments should be taken by contactless card wherever possible
- Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced or alternatives supplied free of charge.
- Tables should be cleaned between each use
- All rubbish should be put straight in the bin and not left for someone else to clear up
- All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices
- Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time
- Promote washing hands before and after using the facilities
- Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush
- Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and Disposal
HAND WASHING FACILITIES
- Ensure soap and fresh water is readily available and kept topped up at all times
- Provide hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are unavailable
- Regularly clean the hand washing facilities and check soap and sanitiser levels.
- Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.
- Organisations will need extra supplies of soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels and these should be securely stored.
CHANGING FACILITIES, SHOWERS AND DRYING ROOMS
- Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion, 2 metre rule
- Enhanced cleaning of all facilities throughout the day and at the end of each day
- Based on the size of each facility, determine how many people can use it at any one time to maintain a distance of 2 metres
- Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins in these areas with regular removal and disposal.
- Ensure ventilation is fit for purpose in the workplace, allow adequate ventilation
- Regularly clean the inside of vehicle cabs and between uses by different operators.
- LGV drivers have route planning taking into account available toilet and washing facilities, this will be a unique problem to this situation as public eating places are
- now closed. HSE Guide here: Driver welfare and hours
- Visitors to sites should be curtailed unless essential and business critical such as delivery drivers, outside maintenance or repairs.
- Any meeting are performed via video link/ skype/ conference call
- All non - essential staff to work remotely
- All inductions if needed undertaken with social distancing close contact protocols rigorously observed
- Observe social distancing and close contact between work colleagues
- Workplaces that are operational need to have daily communication lines
- PPE PROCEDURES
- Re-usable PPE to be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
- Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
- See section on PPE below for details
FACILITES FOR ISOLATING in the WORKPLACE
- Procedures need to be in place if a worker or visitor has been identified as possibly infected. An isolation room needs to be made available
If you or your work colleagues contract the virus follow the Government guidelines on isolation. Ensure your employer reports it using RIDDOR: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/riddor-reporting-coronavirus.htm
Further information can be found at:
- HSE – hse.gov.uk
- Hazards Campaign – hazardscampaign.org.uk
- Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - https://gmhazards.org.uk/
- Scottish Hazards - http://www.scottishhazards.org/
- Hazards Magazine - http://www.hazards.org/index.htm