Trade unions can help people who feel 'left behind' by tackling insecure employment says Usdaw

Date: 22 November 2017 Usdaw, the shopworkers’ trade union, is today giving evidence to the House of Lords select committee on citizenship and civic engagement, which is investigating barriers to active citizenship. Presenting the union’s evidence is Fiona Wilson – Usdaw Head of Research and Economics.

Speaking ahead of the select committee session, Fiona Wilson says: “It is an honour to present evidence to the select committee, we are grateful for the invitation. Trade unions are the UK’s largest voluntary movement, encouraging members to become volunteers in their workplaces and communities under the ethos of collectivism.

“There are clear benefits for employers who encourage civic engagement. Modern, progressive companies understand that supporting civic engagement gives staff skills and experiences that are transferable into their work roles, along with increased staff loyalty and morale. Sponsored civic engagement also enhances an employers’ reputation in the community. Unfortunately many employers still see it as a burden and discourage or limit the possible involvement of employees – claiming it limits the flexibility of their staff.

“One of the biggest barriers to active citizenship is insecure, low paid work, particularly where there are no fixed hours to allow people to plan their lives outside of work. This cuts across different groups and is particularly acute for parents and carers and those doing shift work. This could be addressed by the introduction of a right to guaranteed hours, representing the 'normal' hours worked over a 12 week reference period.

“Unions encourage activists to become volunteers in their workplaces and communities. Usdaw provides specialist training for reps and offers courses to members including functional skills and social issues. This gives our members the skills and confidence to become engaged citizens.

“We need the Government to help unions, not hinder our efforts to represent workers. Improving the process of statutory recognition would give employees more of a voice in their workplaces and allow unions to secure voluntary agreements with employers in the interests of a positive working relationship.

“Trade unions are problem solvers not trouble makers and we support, encourage and develop many volunteers to become better engaged in their workplaces and wider communities.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers