Shop workers union Usdaw back at Blackpool Winter Gardens for conference

Shop workers union Usdaw returned to Blackpool for its annual conference this week - with around 850 delegates in the resort for the four-day gathering at the Winter Gardens.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 9:55 am

The union has been bringing its annual conference to Blackpool for decades but this has been the first in three years following the pandemic, and the first where delegates have used the £28m new conferencing facilities.

Topics under discussion ranged from calls for tougher action against offenders who spike drinks, to supporting a minimum wage of at least £12 an hour.

Union members also backed calls for stores to be closed on Boxing Day so staff can have a longer Christmas break.

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The Winter Gardens conference centre has hosted Usdaw this week

Speakers included Labour shadow mental health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan who thanked key workers for their dedication to duty during the pandemic.

She said: "Retail workers, in particular, were on the front line. It was a moment when the country realised who matters most in our communities and our country.

"It was a moment when we didn’t need management consultants or investment bankers, we needed people who cared for others, who drove lorries and vans, who kept the food stacked on the shelves, and put themselves in harm’s way to feed the nation. "

Michael Williams, managing director of the Winter Gardens, said the return of the conference was good news for Blackpool's economy.

He said: "Usdaw has always supported Blackpool. They first came here in 1947 when they alternated with other venues, but since 1991 they have brought their conference to Blackpool every year apart from during the pandemic.

"It has been really good to have them back and I think the delegates enjoy being in Blackpool.

"They have been using the Empress Ballroom for speakers and the new facilities for exhibition space, which is what the vision was for the conference centre."