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BFAWU Conference 2024 A covid-style furlough scheme is needed when it's too hot to work, BFAWU members say

A COVID-STYLE furlough scheme is needed to financially support people when it is too hot to work as global warming grows worse, bakers’ union members said at their annual conference today.

Delegates meeting in Staffordshire enthusiastically backed a motion that also demanded a legal limit on workplace heat as average temperatures continue their alarming climb.

BFAWU president Ian Hodson told the gathering at Yarnfield Park conference centre in Stone that bad bosses, instead of protecting workers, are already forcing staff to take annual leave or unpaid time off work when factories and offices become too hot.

He said: “The climate crisis is a working-class issue because it’s working-class people who are suffering the consequences.

“The reason why the climate is in the state it’s in is not because of working-class people, it’s because of the decisions of politicians and corporations.”

Mr Hodson, a key ally of veteran socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn, blasted Tory ministers for granting new oil and gas drilling licences and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for abandoning his pledge to invest £28 billion a year in the party’s green investment plan.

Mr Hodson also repeated his demand for legislation to protect workers from “corporate greed.”

His union has long called for action on the issue. Its Cool It campaign, launched in 2008, seeks legal guarantees that fans, adequate ventilation and other adjustments are made to workplaces when indoor temperatures rise above 24°C.

It is also calling for an absolute 27°C limit on strenuous work and 30°C for stationary activity.

Additionally, the union us reminding its members that section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides workers with protection from disciplinary action if they refuse to slog on in unsafe conditions.

Delegate Doughie Johnston warned that the “clock is ticking” on climate change and condemned some employers for saying, amid soaring temperatures, “sod the workers, they can cope.”

Baker Michael White said: “When we get the hot weather in the summer, the heat near our ovens is unbelievable.

“I’m on the forklifts. Our cabs have only got a little window.

“If it’s 30, 40° out there, it’s about 50° inside. It’s like sitting in a mini-greenhouse.”

He urged bosses to “try it themselves for an hour.”

Fellow baker Mike Andrews expressed surprise that more workers are not dying from being made to toil in “exhausting heat.”

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