Trade Unions Are Vital
Trade unions are the weights and measures of the conditions of employment and are absolutely essential now in these most difficult times.
More and more deregulation has resulted in workers’ rights being undermined and the pernicious Trade Union Act 2016 has made it harder and harder for unions to organise and protect their members.
Some employers are benefiting from the shift in balance of power to their advantage; exploiting staff on low wages with precarious contracts. Young workers and the over 50s are most at risk.
Our trade unions challenge unprincipled employers with their race to the bottom in terms of pay, contracts and conditions which has been instigated by privatisation trends and increased marketisation.
We need our education unions, across every sector, to challenge unmanageable workloads, pay reductions and punitive measures that don’t exist in other careers in the way that they do for teachers and lecturers.
We need unions in health and social care to protect workers from what is a really dreadful situation with low pay, long hours, split shifts and rogue employers poaching employees for sometimes just pence an hour more.
We need unions in our service industries where seasonal employment, perfidious zero hours contracts and anti-social hours create unstable employment conditions.
We need unions in engineering, manufacturing and our construction industries where there is a high risk of serious accidents, where Health and Safety is paramount and the difference made is the difference quite literally, between life and death.
Unionised work places equate to better pay, better terms and better conditions. And our trade unions can and will work with employers to lift standards and to raise sectoral bars.
Recognised unions are better for the employer with their promotion of training and upskilling, emphasis on Health & Safety and clear routes of communication.
As the economist Albert Hirschman argued in his 1970 seminal text Exit, Voice and Loyalty, unions provide a vehicle for the voices of workers – and having a voice, having a contributive say, builds loyalty, reducing absenteeism and staff turnover.
Unionised workplaces are a win for everyone.