Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union

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Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union
HeadquartersStanborough House, Great North Road, Welwyn Garden City
5,137 (1907)[1]
17,007 (2019)[2]
Key people
Sarah Woolley, General Secretary
AffiliationsLabour Party (1902-2021), TUC, TUCG, ICTU[3]

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union (BFAWU) is a trade union in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1847 in Manchester, it represents workers in the food industry.


The union dates its origin to 1847. The Manchester Friendly Association of Operative Bakers was established in 1849, and by 1854 it was led by Thomas Hodson. Under his leadership the union first expanded to represent bakers in Salford, becoming the first bakers' union in England to cover a wide area, though its membership remained below 200. In 1861 Hodson led the formation of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, bringing together unions in Bristol, Cheltenham, Hanley, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Warrington and Wigan, along with his Manchester society. The new union gained prominence when its campaign for improvements in working conditions led to the Bakehouse Regulations Act 1863.

In about 1870 the union relocated its headquarters to London, but the majority of its members were still in Lancashire. Other unions gradually joined, including the South Wales Federation of Journeymen Bakers in 1893. By 1891 the union had 4,000 members, nearly half of them in London.[4] In 1902, the union officially affiliated to the Labour Party, which had been founded two years prior.[5]

For many years the union did not admit workers whom it considered unskilled. This led its London organiser, C. Mann, to form the rival National Union of Bakery Trade Workers in 1913. The following year the Operative Bakers agreed to accept all workers in the industry, and renamed itself as the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners and Allied Workers of Great Britain and Ireland. Mann's breakaway union was dissolved. In 1920 the union agreed to transfer its members in the milling industry to the rival Dock, Wharf and Riverside Workers' Union.[4]

The union focused its campaigns on shorter working hours, better pay and working conditions. In 1919 it led a major strike against night work, but this was unsuccessful. It recruited well in cooperative bakeries, but struggled elsewhere, until the Second World War. In 1935 it barred master bakers from holding office in the union.[4]

The union became more centralised in the 1950s. In 1964 it shortened its name to become the Bakers' Union. This was later lengthened to the present name.[4]

In July 2015 the BFAWU endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election.[6]

In 2017 members of the BFAWU staged the first strikes at McDonald's in the UK.[7]

During the Labour Party leadership election in 2020 the union backed Rebecca Long-Bailey. It also backed Richard Burgon for deputy leader.[8]

In November 2020 the union announced that it planned to consult its members on whether to remain affiliated to the Labour Party following the suspension of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[9] In September 2021 it announced during Labour's annual conference that it would disaffiliate from the party, citing dissatisfaction with Keir Starmer's leadership.[10]

Election results[edit]

The union sponsored Labour Party candidates in several Parliamentary elections, winning twice.[11][12]

Election Constituency Candidate Votes Percentage Position
1922 general election Fulham West Robert Mark Gentry 8,210 35.6 2
1932 by-election Wednesbury William Banfield 21,977 54.7 1
1935 general election Wednesbury William Banfield 22,683 53.3 1


General secretaries[edit]

1864: Thomas Hodson
1883: John Jenkins
1915: John William Banfield
1940: Joseph Thomasson
1952: Jock Halliday
1968: Stanley Gretton
1975: Sam Maddox
1979: Joe Marino
2010: Ronnie Draper[13]
2020: Sarah Woolley


1910: A. F. Bentley
1914: J. H. Brown
1926: T. Ferris
1927: H. Keen
1946: Ernest Haynes
1969: Chris Childs
1977: Terry O'Neill
1995: Dennis Nash
c.2000: Ronnie Draper
2010: Ian Hodson
2017 : Steve Potts


  1. ^ Report on Trade Unions in 1905-1907. London: Board of Trade. 1909. pp. 82–101.
  2. ^ Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
  3. ^ "TULO's member unions | Unions Together". Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Arthur Marsh and John B. Smethurst, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol.5, pp.152-198
  5. ^ "BFAWU disaffiliates from Labour". 28 September 2021.
  6. ^ Syal, Rajeev (5 July 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn gets backing of Unite in Labour leadership race". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  7. ^ Kollewe, Julia; Slawson, Nicola (4 September 2017). "McDonald's workers to go on strike in Britain for first time" – via
  8. ^ Rodgers, Sienna (17 January 2020). "Left-wing bakers' union nominates Long-Bailey and Burgon". LabourList. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  9. ^ Rodgers, Sienna (20 November 2020). "Bakers' Union plans to consult members on staying affiliated to Labour". LabourList. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  10. ^ "BREAKING NEWS: BFAWU disaffiliates from Labour". Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  11. ^ Parker, James (2017). Trade unions and the political culture of the Labour Party, 1931-1940 (PDF). Exeter: University of Exeter. p. 125.
  12. ^ Labour Party, Report of the Twenty-second Annual Conference of the Labour Party, pp.255-272
  13. ^ "Ronnie Draper is elected General Secretary" (PDF). Autumn 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arthur Marsh, Victoria Ryan and John B. Smethurst, Historical Directory of Trade Unions

External links[edit]