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Tuesday 28 September 2021

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The BFAWU bakers' union agrees to disaffiliate from the Labour Party

A recall conference of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU) has voted to disaffiliate from the Labour Party, after 119 years of membership.

Following the receipt of an auto-expulsion letter from the Labour Party HQ by the president of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson, the union's executive had decided to recall the delegates who had attended their June conference for a special meeting on September 28 with the sole agenda item on whether the BFAWU should remain affiliated or not.

The following statement was issued by the union's general secretary, Sarah Woolley, after the historic vote, making it clear that the decision does certainly not mean that the union will "be leaving the political scene":

"The decision taken by delegates who predominantly live in what's regarded as Labour red wall seats shows how far the Labour party has travelled away from the aims and hopes of working class organisations like ours.

"The decision by the party to not engage with a union that levied its poorly paid members in 1902 to build a party that would bring about real change to their lives, is the culmination of a failure to deliver those changes during our 119 year relationship.

"In 1902 we had thousands being fed by the king, while today the poor must feed themselves. We need footballers to campaign to ensure our schoolchildren get a hot meal. Workers in our sector, who keep the nation fed, are relying on charity and good will from family and friends to put food on their tables. They rely on help to feed their families, with 7.5% relying on food banks, according to our recent survey.

"But instead of concentrating on these issues we have a factional internal war led by the leadership. We have a real crisis in the country and instead of leadership, the party's leader chooses to divide the trade unions and the membership by proposing changes to the way elections for his successor will take place. We don't see that as a political party with any expectations of winning an election. It's just the leader trying to secure the right wing faction's chosen successor.

"The decision taken by our delegates doesn't mean we are leaving the political scene, it means we will become more political and we will ensure our members' political voice is heard as we did when we started the campaign for £10 per hour in 2014. Today we want to see £15 per hour for all workers, the abolition of zero hours' contracts and ending discrimination of young people by dispensing with youth rates.

"The BFAWU will not be bullied by bosses or politicians. When you pick on one of us you take on all of us. That's what solidarity means".