FAST food workers labelled the police force the “armed guard” of corporate interests today, as they passed a series of motions critical of the justice system.
Delegates at the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) conference in Southport criticised heavy-handed police tactics at demonstrations, particularly over ongoing protests against fracking in West Lancashire.
A motion against the privatisation of security services was also passed.
Lancashire delegate Adele Andrews said that “whenever people protest” police get “high and heavy” in defence of transnational corporations.
She said: “As far as the police are concerned, they will shut local protests down wherever they want and let the corporations run roughshod over us.”
The anti-fracking protests in Lancashire, which developed a particular intensity last year, saw scores of protesters complaining of police brutality and unjust arrest.
Ms Andrews said that she had “seen a disabled guy get thrown head first out of a wheelchair” during one of these protests.
“They’re behaving like thugs and it’s got to stop," she said.
Delegate Stevie Johnson from Leicestershire recalled being brought up during the miners’ strike of 1984-85 and how he experienced a “real wake-up call” seeing the police “running up to men defending their jobs and communities and kicking the living hell out of them.”
Summarising the debate, BFAWU president Ian Hodson said that delegates “expect better” from police officers, who are put in “positions of trust” by the public.
“We expect better of people who come from our community, that live in our community, than to attack our community," he said.
“We recognise law and order, but we do not recognise that the police are allowed to beat people up for no reason.”
Yorkshire delegate Tommy Johnson, discussing a motion to halt the growth of private police forces with the right to arrest across the country, said that, “when you bring the profit motive into law and order, you bring the justice system into disrepute.”
Mr Johnson railed against a US-style system where employers from all industries use prisoners to do unpaid work, which he called “slave labour.”
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