By Ian Hodson, National President
The comments made by Owen Smith about John McDonnell in relation to campaigning on employment rights are absurd.
Mr McDonnell has been a champion of workers rights throughout his political career and his record is exemplary, especially when it comes to the workers that we represent in the food industry.
John has led the way; either by submitting Early Day Motions in Parliament to organising/co-ordinating meetings between MPs, workers and their Trade-Union representatives.
In 2008, it was John who stood alongside those facing redundancy and uncertainty, as a result of the collapse of the Lyndale Food Group. It was he who demanded an inquiry into alleged prior collusion between the company and its appointed administrators, along with a demand for a change in the law relating to the conduct of company directors.
This led to workers in the food industry being represented at Westminster via the creation of the BFAWU’s Parliamentary Group which again, John co-ordinated.
It was John, who assisted the BFAWU in terms of setting up our fast-food rights campaign, with its aim of ending inequality for young workers and to help bring about an end to the use of zero hour contracts in addition to demanding a real living/minimum wage of £10 an hour.
This campaign has resulted in many young workers in the UK fast-food industry being given a voice and a forum for the very first time.
John has also supported our campaigns in relation to heat in the workplace and call for a maximum temperature that would protect the hundreds of thousands of people, working in factories, bakeries, schools and numerous other sites all over the country. John also attends our Annual Conference most years and addresses our delegates. He meets with them, listens to their concerns and identifies with their aspirations.
Since John became Shadow Chancellor we have seen him challenge the Conservatives, provide credible opposition and start to win the argument in terms of the government’s needless and damaging agenda of austerity for the poor and tax-breaks for the rich.
All this despite a pro-right wing mainstream media and unhelpful, rebellious behaviour from certain sections of the Labour Party including ironically, Owen Smith.
As he now considers himself to be the champion of the working class, some might say that Mr Smith is making cynical attempts to wear Jeremy Corbyn’s clothes, in order to somehow win over sections of his support base.
All we know here at the BFAWU, is that we have asked for, but never received so much as a scintilla of support from Mr Smith. At the last general election, unlike Mr McDonnell, Smith never campaigned for a minimum wage of £10 an hour and never campaigned for the abolition of youth rates. He did however, unlike Mr McDonnell abstain from the vote on the Conservatives’ vile welfare bill.
Although we welcome Mr Smith’s sudden embracing of worker friendly policies and championing of workers rights, to attack the architect is very poor form indeed.