AAD: Tuesday 22 May Ronnie Draper

22 May 2018

Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers’ Union, told delegates that strikes work – and that’s why the Tories have tried so hard to make it so difficult for workers in Britain to go on strike.

He said: ‘People say strikes don’t work. I don’t believe that. Four years ago we had the Hovis strike in Wigan. The company rang me and said, “You’ve got to call it off, it’s illegal. We’ll come after you and sequestrate your funds.” Well, when in 1847 we started we had no funds. “We’ll come after you, personally, we’ll take your house.” I said look, mate, join the queue. My ex-wife’s after that. And the strike worked. We won. And the Hovis bosses who were responsible have all gone.’

Ronnie, happy, he said, to be ‘returning to my home city, Tory-free Liverpool,’ brought solidarity greetings from the bakers, ‘a campaigning trade union of similar size to ASLEF.’

‘Remember the crap Cameron, and now May, said about being the part of working people? They’ve given us eight years of austerity and eight years of poverty and a Trade Union Act that hamstrings workers. When I started work, if we had a problem it was “out brothers, and sisters, out.” Now we’ve got to give notice so they can prepare to take us on. The Tory Party is not and never has been the party of working people.

‘McDonalds is living proof that strikes work. Workers now get two weeks’ notice of shift changes and the got the biggest pay rise in living memory. They deserve it. Because the man who runs this global monster is paid $13.4m year! The success of the McStrikes shows what workers can achieve when they organise.

‘The members I represent will struggle to get a house, and have a holiday, because of the poor wages they are paid. The answer to these problems lie in a strong trade union movement which is prepared to take action. We got castigated for it. But we delivered for our members. We need to agitate, not capitulate. We need to campaign. To change our country for the better.’

Ronnie has been a loyal member of the Labour Party for 45 years – ‘except for three weeks when I was suspended.’

‘Now, for the first time, in Jeremy Corbyn we have a leader I can stand side by side with. A Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, who values workers’ rights. And a manifesto we can support which calls for renationalisation of the railways. And, while we’re at it, let’s take gas, water, and electricity back, too!'






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