‘This represented a golden opportunity to change the narrative of what it means to work in the UK food industry’

Ian Hodson, National president of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union, looks at landmark new terms and conditions secured for Warburtons’ workers

The food and drink industry, which is bigger than the automotive and aerospace sectors put together, directly employs around 400,000 people and is one of the biggest in the UK.

However, for far too long, the people who work within it have not got the recognition they deserve. For the most part, food workers have been woefully underpaid and under-protected… until now, that is.

I was delighted that, at the beginning of November, following an unprecedented “very strong recommendation” from the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) to its members, a landmark new deal was secured for our members working at Warburtons.

As the largest bakery brand in the UK, Warburtons has been around for over 140 years. But to ensure it is around for even longer, it recognised that it needed to make the business more flexible to better meet the changing needs of its customers and its people.

Warburtons recognised that it needed to work closely with its people to achieve a deal that truly reflected their needs. So, it set about a programme to modernise the terms and conditions of all its manufacturing team members. For our members, this represented a golden opportunity to demonstrate the value of food workers and to change the narrative of what it means to work in the UK food industry.

After three years of complex, yet constructive negotiation between Warburtons and the BFAWU, we secured a deal we can all be proud of – an increase in the base hourly rate, a simplification of how Warburtons’ people are paid and more stable shift patterns so that they can better plan their lives.

The new terms and conditions will also give more variety to Warburtons’ workers, as well as offering them opportunities to learn new skills.

I am so proud about what was achieved, and would like to thank our members for their patience throughout this process. I would also like to thank Warburtons’ management team for working with us to secure this historic deal.

By putting its people at the heart of the business, Warburtons is leading the way and is showing the food and drinks industry how things should be done.

We sincerely hope that other businesses will follow Warburtons’ brilliant example.

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