The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) has won government funding of £50,000 to assist members for whom English is a foreign language.

The money was awarded by the government’s Union Modernisation Fund and has been matched by financial support from Thompsons Solicitors, a legal firm representing trade unions in the UK. It will be used for two projects, one of which has already started.

Initially, there is research into the needs and attitudes of workers for whom English is a foreign language. This also includes diversity awareness training for staff and members. Subsequently, the results from this initial work will form the basis for more long-term monitoring and evaluation.

The BFAWU’s bid for funding for the work was backed by Northern Foods and RHM. In addition to a nationwide survey by questionnaire, in-depth research will be carried out at two sites each of both companies and at Finsbury Foods’ Memory Lane Cakes plant in Cardiff.

BFAWU general secretary Joe Marino said the food industry has an increasingly diverse workforce, including many for whom English is not their first language. He said: “These are some of the most vulnerable members, in need of trade union support and protection. But it is a concern for employers too. Together we can halt this growing inequality.”

Announcing the funding, employment relations minister Gerry Sutcliffe commented: “This fund helps ensure unions remain an integral part of the UK economy, making an effective contribution to constructive employment relations.”