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TUC Head says Fairer Share of Economic Gains Needed by Working People

TUC Head says Fairer Share of Economic Gains Needed by Working People
The head of the Trades Union Congress has urged that the tide in an increasingly precarious jobs market would be turned if the working people in Britain were to get a “new bargain” in 2017 that gives them a fairer share of the country’s economic gains.
In her new year’s message, Frances O’Grady warned of the threat of “bad bosses” using Brexit to water down rules such as protections from working excessive hours and also pressed the government to ensure workers’ rights are maintained and expanded as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
The TUC general secretary championed the EU’s role in guaranteeing many basic rights to workers and was a vocal supporter of the remain camp during the referendum campaign.
She said in Friday’s message: “Unions stand ready to defend these rights and win new rights so we keep pace with both the changing world of work and with our neighbours and competitors in the rest of Europe.”
According to O’Grady, a key driver behind the vote for Brexit in the UK, Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election and the Italian government’s defeat in a key referendum was a widespread discontent among voters with ruling elites and she warned politicians to draw lessons from this trend of 2016.
“2016 will be remembered as the year the establishment was shaken to its core. And yet the political turmoil has not benefited working people. Few feel they have taken back much control over their working lives,” said O’Grady.
“So as we look to 2017, it’s clear that we need a new bargain between those at the top – enjoying soaring boardroom pay and insulated from economic change – and ordinary working people. Britain succeeds when working people succeed. And strong unions are the only way to make sure working people get their share in Britain’s success.”
the TUC and others have emphasised that a large part of that has been down to a rise in precarious forms of work, including self-employment and people working far fewer hours than they would like as ministers have repeatedly focused in flattering headline measures showing high employment and falling unemployment this year.
Including the growing number that are part of the “gig economy’ as on-demand services such as Uber and Deliveroo grow, O’Grady wants to see better representation and protection for those workers.
“One in 10 of the UK workforce is now in precarious work. That’s 3.2 million workers in casual or agency work, on a zero-hours contract or in low paid self-employment,” she said.
“Just like last century’s dockers standing at the wharf gate hoping for a few hours’ work, the zero-hours contract worker waiting for a text from their boss needs a union. Because if all of those zero-hours contract workers acted together with the protection of a union, the bosses would have to listen – and then, things would change.”
2017 could be tough for workers, when rising inflation and economic uncertainty could squeeze earning, predicts labour market experts and her calls for fairer pay and representation for workers come at such a time.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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