#HeartUnions Week

Kate’s latest column for the Shields Gazette: 

This week marks Heart Unions week – an opportunity to raise awareness of the role that trade unions play in our communities and why they are vital for everyone at work. 

Trade unions carry out good work every day to offer everyone a voice at work. Unions have played a large part in my life. They gave me my voice and my values, helping shape who I am today.

I’ve campaigned in the Labour movement for many years. As a senior trade union rep, I fought for and won better pay, improved terms and conditions for many workers, so I know all about the importance of being involved in a union and what it can bring.

No one could have foreseen the challenges of the ongoing global pandemic and unstable global economy.

I’m proud of the way the trade union movement responded, stepping up to fight the pandemic, demanding action to protect jobs and supporting its members through thick and thin.

It is our trade unions, along with the Labour party who have played such a key role in holding the Government to account and forcing Ministers to provide more support to workers.

Every worker deserves to carry out their job in safe conditions for a fair days pay.

The attack on workers’ rights has become more aggressive than ever with the prevalence of fire and rehire as being used by many companies across the country such as British Gas, Heathrow Airport and others.

Employers have been using the cover of Covid-19 to disgracefully strip away workers’ pay and conditions, aided by this Government who at times have been big on words but have seldom taken any direct action.

A responsible Government, committed to levelling up and addressing inequality, should be preventing such abuses and not actively enabling them.

eThe past couple of years have brought into sharp focus the imbalance of power in the workplace that trade unions and the Labour Party have long sought to rectify.

Wages have stagnated for over a decade, work is becoming increasingly insecure, and in-work poverty, low pay, and financial insecurity have become rife under this Government. 

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, working people have been keeping the country on its feet. It was those on the front line, who cared for society’s most vulnerable, who kept essential services running and food on shop shelves, many in insecure roles without proper rights and protections.

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly proved the strength of workers when we unite.  It’s proved that there is power in a union.  

Trade unions are a force for good in our country, representing individuals and groups of workers to level the playing field that is overwhelmingly in favour of employers. 

From the creation of our NHS to the introduction of the national minimum wage, it has only been the Labour Party who has always sought to move society towards a fairer and more equal future and fought to improve the rights of working people. 

None of these achievements would have been possible without the many trade union members across the country coming together to stand up for each other for a better deal.   

Together, we will continue to keep up the fight against the discrimination and insecurity that runs throughout the UK workforce.

We need fair employment practices that move our economy away from its reliance on low paid and insecure jobs.

If these past difficult couple of years or so has taught us anything then it has highlighted the importance of collective action and the relevance of trade unions.