Labour Research November 2021

Union news

Union remains on political scene

The decision by the BFAWU food workers union to disaffiliate from the Labour Party does not mean they are leaving the political scene, says its general secretary Sarah Woolley.

A recall conference of the 16,500-member union, a founding member of the party in 1902, agreed to cut ties with the party at the end of September.

The decision followed implied threats that the union’s president, Ian Hodson, might be “auto-excluded” from the party because of his links to one of the organisations which the Labour Party has recently proscribed.

It also came after a survey of BFAWU members found a small majority of them thought the union should end its affiliation to Labour. The survey revealed that only a quarter of members felt the party represented their values, with 51% saying it did not.

Woolley accused the party of failing to engage with the issues faced by her members, who are largely poorly paid.

However, she said the decision to leave the party “doesn’t mean we are leaving the political scene, it means we will become more political and we will ensure our members’ political voice is heard”.