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BFAWU Conference 2024 Ministers must address ‘disgusting’ lack of employment rights for all workers from day one of a contract, food workers say

in Staffordshire

MINISTERS must address the “disgusting” lack of employment rights for all workers from day one of a contract, food workers said yesterday.

Delegates meeting in Staffordshire for the BFAWU annual conference unanimously endorsed a motion asking: “If an employer expects you to work from day one, why should we not then have employment rights from the same day?”

The call came after many unions accused Labour of watering down its New Deal for Working People, which the party has promised to introduce within 100 days should it win the July 4 general election.

The package, originally conceived by ex-shadow employment rights secretary Andy McDonald before his dramatic resignation from Sir Keir Starmer’s front-bench team in 2021, included commitments to introduce a single “worker” status from day one and to outlaw fire and rehire and zero-hours contracts.

Last month, however, the Unite union warned that the package is now “totally unrecognisable” from its original version and amounts to little more than a “charter for bad bosses.”

BFAWU president Ian Hodson, whose union voted overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from Labour in 2021, told delegates in Stone: “Why shouldn’t you be entitled to employment rights on the same day you start work?

“There’s no reason why health and safety shouldn’t apply from day one. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a contract of employment from day one.”

He warned employers that the union will not just campaign on the issue but also “support our members if they are discriminated against in any way, whether that’s through a legal route or by using the strength of our members in branches.

“We as working people will stand with [colleagues] and support them because it’s important that we’re prepared to take action to support our demands. This is what our members want.”

Delegate Robbie McCarthy backed the call, warning that some of his seasonal colleagues who are forced to work on temporary contracts during summer months miss out on the same rights enjoyed by others. 

He said: “It’s disgusting. They should be valued, welcomed and treated like the rest of us. They are working-class people.”

To rapturous applause, he added: “We need you to stand with them and get this passed into law.”

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