Sheffield cafe South Street Kitchen signs ground-breaking trade union deal with BFAWU

The workers and owners of a popular Sheffield café/restaurant have forged a union recognition agreement hailed as the first of its kind in the city.

By Julia Armstrong
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 4:56 pm

South Street Kitchen in Park Hill has agreed to undertake collective bargaining with their workers’ union of choice, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).

The owners of the cafe have signed a written agreement to negotiate with worker representatives on issues such as pay, workplace safety and time off.

Union recognition is commonplace in some industries such as public services and manufacturing but very rare in the hospitality industry, where union membership is very low among its predominantly young workforce, says the BFAWU.

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Rachel Cornish and Tim Jenkins of South Street Kitchen in Sheffield, pictured in 2018. The cafe and restaurant has just signed a union agreement with the food workers' union the BFAWU

The recognition agreement is designed to give workers a more formal and permanent voice in their workplace.

Zoran, a worker at South Street Kitchen, said: “The agreement means we now have a formal process for negotiating with management so that together we can continue to make this a great place to work.

“We are proud to be members of the BFAWU and would encourage other hospitality workers to form a union where they work.”

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Owner Rachel Cornish said: “We’ve always taken the concerns of our staff very seriously. We know that the success of our business is rooted in the hard work and dedication of our team.

“We are happy to recognise our staff’s choice of union, the BFAWU, and we are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”

In recent years Sheffield Trades Council and the BFAWU have run a joint initiative, Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise, which is supporting workers to form unions in the hospitality industry, raising the profile of trade unionism across the city.

BFAWU general secretary Sarah Wooley said: “I would like to welcome these organised workers into the trade union movement and I congratulate Tim and Rachel from South Street Kitchen on recognising the workers right to form a union.

“It shows that unions and good employers can work hand in hand for the benefit of all.”

South Street Kitchen opened in March 2018, “with the goal of creating a laid-back and sustainable café for the local community and beyond”, according to its website, www.southstreetkitchen.org.