One of Britain’s largest unions has critcised the new Food and Drink Sector Council, setup by Michael Gove last week, describing it as a “talking shop for big business”.
The newly formed council aims to meet the challenge of Brexit by bringing together industry figures, after its creation was announced in a Government Industrial Strategy White Paper last November.
Michael Gove hailed the council as an “ambitious partnership” after its first meeting on January 29, which includes representatives of Sainsbury's, Nestle and the farming industry.
The cabinet minister added: “It will secure the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable and high-quality food and drink. Increasing productivity will also benefit consumers and businesses, creating jobs and providing a real boost to our economy.
Yet GMB, which represents over 600,000 workers released a statement on their website yesterday saying its members "deserve more than just crumbs off the table”.
GMB national officer Eamon O’Hearn said: “Without a true voice for the workers on the Food and Drink Sector Council, it seriously risks becoming an exclusive talking shop for big business.
“This £28bn industry relies on thousands of people, including our members, who work every day to not only put food on the table of their family but of families across the country and the world.
“Our members deserve more than crumbs off the table from the bosses of the big food and drink businesses.”
The Food and Drink Sector Council says it aims to improve the productivity and sustainability of the industry.
A statement from the group said: “The Food and Drink Sector Council has been established to act as a Sector Council for the entire farm to fork food chain, covering farming, manufacturing, retail, hospitality and logistics.
“Its objective is to improve the productivity and sustainability of the industry. It will do this through providing a mechanism for the sector to develop industry led approaches and solutions to boosting growth and productivity across the food chain.”