“Power to the people: How stronger unions can deliver economic justice”

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice has just published a discussion paper entitled “Power to the people: How stronger unions can deliver economic justice“.

This paper shows why trade unions and collective bargaining are good for workers and good for the economy. It shows how the decline of the union movement has contributed to a growing power imbalance in the economy and to soaring inequality. It highlights the fact that it is the very workers who could benefit most from union membership who are least likely to join, and raises concerns that union membership is set to decline further still.

As public policy – and the hostile environment for trade unions that it has created – has contributed to the decline of trade unions, public policy must be part of the solution. The paper calls for:

A renaissance of collective bargaining, with a target of doubling collective bargaining coverage to 50 per cent by 2030, support for sectoral collective bargaining in low pay sectors, and measures to encourage firm-level bargaining, overseen by a new Minister of State for Labour
Support for trade unions to recruit and innovate, with a Right of Access to workplaces for unions to recruit, a pilot of auto-enrolment for workers in the gig economy, and a WorkerTech Innovation Fund to support unions to embrace new technology
Trade unions to be embraced as social partners in driving the UK’s industrial strategy and in supporting a managed acceleration of automation that works for working people


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