'Working together to feed the nation'

Food unions join with industry federation to commend worker efforts

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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 the sector’s 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 implemented by trade unions and employers in many workplaces, including social distancing and hygiene standards, and support for the workforce. 

This includes many businesses which are providing full pay for staff in the ‘highly vulnerable’ category during the 12 weeks who need to be at home and isolated in line with government guidelines and those with Covid-19 symptoms or who are self-isolating. 

The statement added, “A large number of responsible manufacturers and unions have agreed and implemented a series of measures to make people safe in their workplace. These include appropriate social distancing, enhanced hygiene measures and personal protective equipment as applicable and appropriate.” 

FDF chief executive, Ian Wright CBE, championed food workers as the nation’s ‘hidden heroes’ and said that federation ‘looks forward to working closely with our trade union colleagues’ to continue supporting them throughout the crisis. 

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.”

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