Bosses should provide food for staff by law says trade union leader

A trade union leader has called for bosses to be legally required to provide food for their staff.

Sarah Woolley of the Bakers’ union said food poverty is rising and governments across the UK needed to ensure people did not go hungry.

A survey of food workers found 40% of people agreeing they had not eaten enough due to a lack of money.

One in five said they lived in a household which had run out of food, while roughly the same proportion said they had relied on food from others.

Anti- poverty campaigners are calling for a ‘right to food’ to be enshrined in law – a proposal Woolley supports.

“Food poverty was historically something that you saw in Africa, but now we’re seeing it in the UK and working families,” the former Greggs worker told the Record.

“One of the aspects is around making sure that children have got access to free school meals.”

Woolley, who leads the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union, said the food parcels sent to families during the pandemic had been “appalling” and demanded staff have a right to food at work:

“If somebody is doing a shift at work, then they should have access to food and they shouldn’t have to worry about having to purchase it. That could be one thing, a bit like free school meals.”

Stigma, she said, prevented some people from talking about food poverty: “There’s a kind of a shame to admitting that you can’t afford to feed yourself and your family.”

Speaking ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, Woolley said she hoped social justice would not be overlooked at the climate crisis summit:

“People are already struggling to put food on the table. They’re already struggling to make ends meet, and we’re being told that energy prices are going to rise by up to 30%.

“What part of the plans around environmental justice are going to include social justice? Because you can’t have one without the other. They’re interlinked.”

She also questioned whether COP26 needed to be an in-person summit:

“I’m not sure, when we’re still in a global pandemic and we’re talking about climate change, it’s the right thing to be flying world leaders from all around the world together in one place.

“We can do things digitally, but I do appreciate the importance of it.”

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