Trade Union backs calls to end child poverty at TUC

16 Oct 2023

The BDA Trade Union worked with other unions at this year’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) on motions to improve child health and the wider NHS.

Tackling child poverty and malnutrition was the driving force behind motions presented and supported by the BDA Trade Union at this year’s TUC Congress in Liverpool last month.

Annette Mansell-Green, BDA Director of Trade Union and Public Affairs speaking at the TUC

There were calls for a coherent plan of action around Ending Child Poverty, a cause felt across the movement but spearheaded lately by education unions – in particular the National Education Union – whose members see the results of child poverty throughout term time.

The BDA’s motion calling for free school meals was composited with one from the National Education Union on ending child poverty, which was carried by Congress. Vicki Bennett seconded the NEU’s motion, highlighting the BDA’s commitment to free school meals and the inequity of the situation where parents are going without food in order to feed their children. The BDA and the trade union movement advocates for tangible policies which will make a real difference in people’s lives.

Vicki Bennett, BDA TUNEC Scottish Rep and Chair

As the carried motion explained: “Congress recognises the growing poverty in our society and that differences in the social background of pupils are the primary factor causing inequality in educational outcomes.

“Congress believes that all children in England should be guaranteed access to the food that they need to live healthy lives and that good nutrition in childhood is essential for this critical period in rapid growth. Without it, health outcomes worsen as do children’s life chances, as well as pressure on the NHS.

“Dietitians and other health professionals see the consequences of child food poverty every day with rising malnutrition leading to conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

“Congress agrees that universal free school meals for all primary school children would reduce inequality and the stigmatisation of pupils experiencing food poverty.”


Other highlights from Congress included your BDA Trade Union delegation contributing to motions on such as Investing fair funding in public services, where our Director of Trade Union and Public Affairs Annette Mansell-Green addressed the lack of sufficient support for the NHS (highlighting that in some cases BDA members “are working in portacabins in car parks”) but also those services that BDA members use day in and day out whether its transport, education, and beyond.

The BDA Trade Union were also involved in the Campaign against the Minimum Service Levels (MSLs) legislation recognising that MSLs serve solely to undermine the rights of workers to take industrial action as they fight for dignity in the workplace. For those asking why BDA members have to fight for such a thing then look no further than the Our NHS in crisis motion which starkly depicted the threats posed to NHS workers: contempt from those in power, pay offers which fail to match inflation, and an approach from the government which does a disservice to both staff and patients.

As Annette Mansell-Green said from the rostrum, “the small but mighty British Dietetic Association” is fighting back by organising on the ground, organising nationally with our fellow trade unions, and by offering real alternatives to the current state of affairs. We want you to be a part of that.


If you want to get involved with the Trade Union side of the BDA get in touch via [email protected] and helps us make a better future.

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