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TORY ministers have committed a “criminal injustice against working people” by letting so many die unnecessarily during the Covid-19 pandemic, BFAWU’s Ian Hodson said today.
The Bakers’ Union’s national president said the government’s neglect had significantly worsened the impact of the crisis, particularly in care homes, where tens of thousands of deaths have been reported.
Mr Hodson, who was addressing delegates on the first day of the union’s 2022 conference in Staffordshire, also slammed Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour for failing to hold ministers to account, saying the party had been too afraid of “negative headlines” in the right-wing press.
The union, a founding member of Labour in 1902, voted to disaffiliate in September last year, citing a “factional internal war” waged by the party leadership.
Mr Hodson told delegates at Yarnfield Park near Stone: “Covid was a real killer. We have a government that had a responsibility and a duty [but] it failed us miserably by allowing so many to die in care homes.”
In a reference to the ongoing “partygate” scandal, he added: “While you were working and keeping this nation fed, they were partying.
“You were called essential workers, but now the Covid crisis is apparently over, you’re not any more.
“But you are essential, you were essential before Covid, you’re essential afterwards.”
He stressed the need for workers to be organised, saying: “What Covid has shown us is that the government and the politicians won’t come to our rescue, it’s down to us.
“[We must] organise in our workplaces and make demands to improve our lives.
“We’re the only people that’s going to change our lives and make sure our kids’ lives are better than the ones we had.
“We should be aspirational about our politics, we should be aspirational about our rights, we should be aspirational about our entitlement to justice.
“So many more people would be in hardship without the demands you’ve made over the years. You are courageous people, this union was built by courage, and you are the people who are going to take us forward.”
The union, which marks its 175th birthday this year, is holding its first in-person conference since 2019 after the pandemic led to the cancellation of 2020’s meeting and forced last year’s conference online.
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