Monday, March 03, 2014

Sectorial Wage Councils for Vulnerable Workers

Both our branch motions were passed at last week's UNISON London Annual Regional Council AGM. I'll post my speech moving the motion next.

Only one delegate actually voted against our motion calling for wage councils and another made a very odd speech supposedly in support. Neither of course were female, BME, low paid workers on zero hour contracts with no sick pay or pensions. 

  • All service groups in UNISON will have members who are employed by private contractors that have traditionally suffered from low pay and poor employment conditions. 
  • For example Social care and support, private health care, cleaning, security and catering services. These sectors also tend to employ women and BME staff, pay the minimum wage rate with no decent sickness protection or pensions on insecure contracts.
  • The employers are often very small and have fragmented workplaces over a large geographically area. Many staff also work part time and/or shift work. 
  • It has always been very difficult and challenging for unions to organise in these workplaces which are a major reason for the low pay and poor conditions. 
  • Due to Austerity and the polices of this Tory led government the pay and conditions of these already badly paid staff has gone down due to cuts in government, council and health budgets. 
  • Attacks on TUPE and the growth of Zero hours employment contracts have made things even worse. Millions of UK workers are treated in this way. The Government has to spend billions of pounds on tax credits and housing benefit subsidising employers who treat their staff in this way. 
  • This is an unacceptable state of affairs in the 5th richest economy in the world. In other European countries such vulnerable workers are protected by wage councils where employers and trade unions collectively bargain on binding national agreements not only on pay but training, overtime, sickness benefits, holidays, pensions and trade union recognition. 
  • In the UK during the 1930’s the Conservative Government of the time set up wage councils in order to increase demand in the economy in order to pull the Country out of recession. Over the years these Councils have been abolished by post Thatcher Conservative governments on free market ideological grounds most recently the Agricultural wages Council in 2013 
  1. This Greater London Regional Council believes that the UK should support and campaign for the setting up of Sectorial wage Councils in this Country for such vulnerable employment sectors.
  2. Regional Labour Link should be asked to consider supporting such a campaign.

(if this motion is passed and sent to any other forum then the wording should be changed accordingly)

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