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Ian Hodson, BFAWU president, calls for a general strike against UK government austerity, at the opening of the union’s annual conference at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre today.
Mr Hodson told Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union delegates that talking and marches could only take workers so far and the time had come for all out action.
He said: “My message to Frances O’ Grady and the TUC is this: We’ve done the marches, attended the rallies and got nowhere. Snappy sound-bites and raising awareness guff has achieved nothing. Stop beating about the bush and make the call for a general strike.”
The wide ranging address singled out food employers such as 2 Sister’s Food Group founder Ranjit Boparan for criticism warning supermarket bosses and others, the union would strike if members’ livelihoods were threatened.
He said: “Mr Boparan’s business model is nothing more than asset stripping, which leaves companies and people tossed aside with total disregard.
“However in David Cameron’s ‘big society’ Britain of hard working people, this kind of behaviour is rewarded. It demonstrates the sheer perverse nature of the business world when making huge profits at the expense of workers is something to be celebrated.
“To those employers who freeze or cut our pay, we will strike, reduce our terms and conditions we will strike, attack our health and safety, we will strike, bring in slave labour workfare schemes, we will strike.”
He criticised the government’s lax approach to health and safety highlighting that one worker dies every 15 seconds in the world, as a result of poor working conditions.
“The fact is that more people are killed at work than on the battlefield, yet this is never reported in the mainstream media,” he said.
Despite the tough economic and political climate, the BFAWU president urged members to look to Hovis workers successful strike against zero hours contracts last year and the global Fast Food Workers campaign calling for a £10 an hour living wage.
He added: “The trade union movement will be judged as to how it responds to these challenges. The bottom line is there are close to 7 million trade union members in the UK that would be virtually unstoppable if mobilised.
The union has been at the forefront of a global campaign for Fast Food Workers Rights which calls for a living wage http://fastfoodrights.wordpress.com/
For further information, contact: BFAWU leader Ronnie Draper 07812739350 // Ronnie.Draper@bfawu.org // @ronniebfawu
To arrange interviews with Ronnie, union President Ian Hodson or union activists during conference, contact John Millington – 07931316547 // firstname.lastname@example.org // @johnjournalist
Notes to editors
• The BFAWU represents over 20,000 workers in food, baking and allied services industries across the UK and Northern Ireland.
• It is an affiliate to the UK Labour Party.
• The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) is a trade union of workers in the food industry. It was founded in 1847, in Manchester, by a group of Journeymen Bakers.