UK trade unions and the FDF: working together to feed the nation

The Unite, Usdaw, BFAWU and GMB trade unions and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), have joined together for the first time to commend the efforts of all those working in food and drink manufacturing who are doing so much to keep the nation fed and to maintain the UK’s food security.

In a joint statement, the unions and the FDF highlight the critical importance of working together at this exceptionally demanding time to ensure our workforce is safe, protected and respected. As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink employs 430,000 people in every part of the country.

The statement highlights the good practice underway in many workplaces, including social distancing and hygiene standards, and support for the workforce. By continuing to work constructively together, our factories can continue to produce the food and drink we need to feed the people of the United Kingdom.

Unite national officers for food, drink and agriculture, Joe Clarke and Bev Clarkson, said: “Unite the union are proud of the cooperative approach that has been established with trade unions working jointly with FDF to ensure the health and safety and good practice within the sector to support our food workers in feeding the nation. Hopefully the foundations that have been formed will stand us in good stead in the future when we come out the other end of this national crisis.”

FDF chief executive, Ian Wright CBE, said: “If you can’t feed a country, you don’t have a country. Workers in food and drink are the hidden heroes, making everyday sacrifices so fellow citizens can access the food and drink they want and need. Partnership between employers and unions has been crucial to continuing production over the last eight weeks. Our member companies will go on supporting their workers through the difficult weeks to come. We look forward to working closely with our trade union colleagues to do so.”

Usdaw national officer David Gill said: “Usdaw are pleased the FDF continue to engage with unions, share best practices and ensure the health and safety of Usdaw members working in the food and drink manufacturing sector. The health, safety and wellbeing of these key workers feeding our nation is of paramount importance to Usdaw and the FDF during this unprecedented time.”

BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley said: “We welcome the opportunity at the BFAWU to work together with the FDF and other trade unions across our sector to ensure that our members remain safe and healthy and their workplaces survive the economic impact of COVID 19.”

GMB national officer Eamon O’Hearn said: “The current crisis has shown just how essential GMB members are in the food and drink supply chain, ensuring food gets from farm to fork. GMB hopes this crisis can be the catalyst for further joint working to raise standards across the entire industry, so that essential workers in both the public and private sector are recognised for the contribution they make to our communities.”

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