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BFAWU Conference ’18 Agency workers lay bare the grim reality of life on zero-hours contracts

Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union delegates agree to fight for the right for agency workers to be entitled to a full week’s work

AGENCY workers face walking miles to work to be told there is none, catering and hospitality workers heard today.

Delegates meeting at the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) conference in Southport agreed to fight for the right for agency workers to be entitled to a full week’s work if they work at some point in the week.

Yorkshire delegate Tommy Johnson said that he regularly speaks to agency workers who “walk five miles each day, only to turn up at the factory gates to be told there is no work for them.

“This is an absolute disgrace. There is a social contract: if you are offered work you should be guaranteed work, and at least a decent standard of living.”

Wales delegate Emrys King spoke of agency workers forced to sleep in the canteen of the factory where he works because they have to travel 15 to 20 miles to get there and baking doesn’t begin until 2am.

A delegate, who did not wish to be named, has been undertaking agency work since being blacklisted from full-time work in 2016.

Speaking in favour of the motion, he insisted that the union should be hotly pursuing the recruitment of agency workers and that the union should be telling employers that they should no longer negotiate with agencies.

In response to some disagreement from delegates who perceived agency staff to be anti-union, BFAWU national president Ian Hodson intervened, saying that “we want the best for agency workers because we want them in the union.

“We want to tell agency workers: ‘Look, the best way for you to end up with a real job and a contract of employment is to organise all workers into the union.’

“If agency workers are replacing full-time skilled workers, tell your managers this is unacceptable.

“All employees should be in the union, and we should make sure of that.

“If we’re successful, we won’t be talking about agency workers at our conferences any more: we’d be talking about our workers, in the union, with full contracts and proper employment.”

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