Too Many Food Workers Going Cold and Hungry and in need of a Pay Rise
New research from the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) has exposed the extent to which food workers are struggling to afford the food that they produce and to heat their homes. The shocking findings, in their report ‘Food Workers on the Breadline’, show how the workforce who help keep the country fed are themselves going short of food and are unsure where their next meal is coming from. The evidence also shows how people are going cold and unable to adequately heat their homes during winter.
This latest research follows on from the 2021 BFAWU research and shows how in the past two years things have got worse for the union’s members. The number of food workers now relying on food banks has increased from 7% to 17%, with those relying on friends and family increasing from 20% to 34%. Those eating less have gone from 35% to 57%, 80% are eating cheaper (unhealthier) meals, and 55% have been worried about running out of food with 45% having skipped meals.
A staggering 88% also said they had reduced their heating and energy use to save money. While 10% said they feel cold, in their own home, all the time, 38% said they felt cold most of the time and 40% said they felt cold sometimes.
The reason for this is explained by the 63% of BFAWU members who said that their wages are insufficient to meet their basic needs and the 66% who said their wages are insufficient to feed themselves and their family with ‘good food’.
General Secretary of the BFAWU, Sarah Woolley, said:
“Too many food workers are going cold and hungry and need a pay rise. The suffering of our members, the key workers who kept people fed during the pandemic and who continue to ensure people are fed all of the time, is a national disgrace. The fact that food workers cannot afford the food they grow, produce, distribute and supply should be seen as a national embarrassment and scandal.”
“Our findings are a shocking indictment on how food workers are treated in the workplace and the levels of pay they receive. Food workers are a vital cog in the functioning of society, they are the epitome of a key worker; what can be more important than feeding people. Sadly, however their value to society is not reflected in their pay or indeed in their terms and conditions. This has to change.”
President of the BFAWU Ian Hodson said:
“The evidence we have gathered could not be clearer; food workers need a pay rise. It cannot be right that the people who produce our food are on the breadline. It should be a source of national shame that the people who produce our food are unable to feed themselves and purchase the very food they produce. It is beyond shocking and is evidence of an economy that is not working for far too many people – in and out of work.”
“That is why we at the BFAWU will continue to campaign for a minimum wage of at least £15 an hour and an end to insecure work and it is also why the BFAWU will continue to campaign for a right to food so that no child or adult, goes hungry or feels food insecure in the 5th richest country in the world.”