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BFAWU Conference 2024 Food workers condemn demonisation of refugees

FOOD workers pledged today to challenge “harmful and divisive” anti-migrant rhetoric across workplaces and in some corners of the labour movement. 

BFAWU delegates meeting in Staffordshire overwhelmingly backed a motion which urged members to “call out the use of words that alienate and demean migrants and refugees.”

The call is especially important during one of the most “divisive” general election campaigns in recent memory, the union’s general secretary Sarah Woolley stressed, in an address on the closing day of the union’s annual conference in Stone. 

She said: “The rhetoric around small boats, the attacks on those supporting Palestinians, the rising anti-semitism and Islamophobia, is clear for all to see.

“It’s in the news on a daily basis, it’s in our workplaces shamefully and our communities. 

“It’s even, disappointingly, entered the trade union movement, with reps and members using hostile language and sharing shocking links on social media.

“That isn’t what we would expect from trade unionists, especially those who have migrant workers as members in their branches.”

Many of the BFAWU’s 15,000 members who work across food production, delivery and retail, are migrants. 

The former Greggs worker added: “We must be brave and call out words that are used to alienate and demean migrants and refugees, taking a stand when they are used.

“We want to campaign for a society where the migrant experience is respected and valued. 

“We want to show actual solidarity to migrant communities by standing up against the harmful narratives, not using them.

“We are proud of our migrant workers, we are proud of the contribution they give not only to our industry but to our union, and we are proud that we welcome each and every one of them with open arms.”

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