As part of the Cool It! campaign, which is also supported by the TUC, the BFAWU has put forward an Early Day Motion (EDM), sponsored by Labour MP John McDonnell, calling for clear legislation on the issue, with the introduction of a maximum working temperature of around 30C and 27C for those doing strenuous work. As British Baker went to press, 32 MPs were supporting the EDM.
According to the BFAWU, current guidelines on workplace temperatures are unclear, with employers taking an ad hoc approach to the issue. National president Ian Hodson told British Baker that some of his members had been forced to work in temperatures as high as 45C, with temperatures of between 36-38C commonplace.
"This is an issue for bakeries of all sizes right up to the big plant bakers," he said. "While modern bakeries have technology, such as air conditioning, to regulate temperatures, in long-standing workplaces, there has not been enough investment."
Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers (FoB), which represents plant bakers, said his members had updated their factories "wherever possible". "Health and safety assess-ments are taking place all the time in bakeries. These are risk-based assessments and if there is a problem which is certainly not all the time, as it's more of a hot weather issue then there are measures that can be taken, such as different types of clothes and different break patterns."
He said the FoB did not back calls for a maximum working temperature. "The view has been taken that there is sufficient health and safety in place. We don't think it's necessary."
Bakers looking to get involved in the campaign should email: firstname.lastname@example.org.