THE BAKERS’ union (BFAWU), which was one of the first unions to fight to set up the Labour Party in 1902, disaffiliated from the Labour Party yesterday and walked out of the conference.
The resignation follows Labour leader Kier Starmer’s refusal to back a motion for a £15-an-hour minimum wage, instead instructing his cabinet to oppose it.
Conference overwhelmingly supported the motion in defiance of the party leadership.
Frontbencher Andy McDonald resigned on Monday, saying the leadership had ordered him to argue against the rise, making his position ‘untenable’.
He said that he was told to meet with trade union leaders behind closed doors and ask them to change their position.
After a flaming row putting Starmer and his leadership into question, by the time it got to yesterday afternoon he modified his position to one of ignoring any Conference vote for a £15 an hour wage.
Speaking about why the Bakers’ union left the party, Ian Hodson, National President of BFAWU, said: ‘Today we have held a recall conference and the delegates that attended that conference feel that the Labour Party no longer represents their interests and their needs and their aspirations.
‘There was a lot of upset at the Labour Party this week.
‘Despite telling the unions that they were open on the issue of £10-an-hour minimum wage, they have decided that they would accept Andy McDonald’s resignation for his attempts to secure a better living standard and a better living wage for working people up and down this country of £15 an hour.
‘That suggests to us that the Labour Party was not being honest with us on Friday and they have not been honest with their commitment to raising people’s living standard.
‘In 2019 Keir Starmer addressed some of our striking members and called for the support for those members in 2019 for £15 an hour and he seems to have backtracked, since he stuck with us in solidarity, holding a banner that said “Fight for 15” on it.
‘It does not feel like unity in the Labour Party. We have seen lots and lots of people expelled. We are not trying to undermine Kier Starmer. Keir Starmer is undermining himself. As far as the Bakers’ members feel, the Labour Party is supposed to represent the interests, the ambitions and the aspirations of working people.’
The GMB union moved the motion along with Unite for the Labour Conference to back its ‘Fight for £15’ campaign, demanding care workers are paid at least £15 per hour.
Cath Pinder, GMB delegate, told Conference: ‘Britain’s care system relies on gross injustice to generate bloated profits for shadowy private companies.
‘Care workers are paid the bare minimum while care home residents shell out their life savings just so they can have dignity in old age: this in a nutshell is the business model of our care system.
‘And now the Conservatives’ National Insurance tax hike will snatch £116 million from carers’ pay packets to fund the NHS – that’s almost £100 from each of England’s 1.25 million care workers.
‘If this really is to be a moment of change for our care system, GMB believes we must take our lead from care workers themselves.
‘That’s why I’m so proud of GMB’s “Fight for £15” campaign.’