Throughout my working life, I’ve seen the ways that the trade union movement supports, protects and encourages ordinary working people in the workplace.
Whether it was on construction sites as an apprentice bricklayer, when my union rep made sure I had the training and equipment necessary to keep me safe or as the regional PCS rep at the Learning and Skills Council, where I worked to protect jobs and promote lifelong learning.
Now, as Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, I know that some of our highest performing companies and public services are ones that work in partnership with unions. But for many workers, and in many workplaces, there’s an imbalance of power and workers feel they have no voice.
In 2017, when I stood to be the Mayor of Liverpool City Region, I promised to put fairness and social justice at the heart of my administration.
Since then I’ve ensured the Liverpool City Region was the first Combined Authority to be recognised as a Real Living Wage employer; launched Households into Work, a programme to help families who have experienced long-term unemployment into work and training and introduced half priced public transport for apprentices.
I’ve always believed that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
That’s why I’ve introduced new rules so that Combined Authority funding is better-directed towards companies that: pay the real living wage, use local labour and supply chains, recognise trade unions, take on apprentices, minimise the use of zero-hours contracts and employ people from under-represented groups.
Unfair working practices don’t work for workers and they don’t work for businesses. They demotivate and divide and have a direct knock on effect on productivity and profitability.
That’s why I promised to give a voice to working people, by working with businesses and trade unions alike, to establish a Fair Employment Charter for the Liverpool City Region.
The first stage of our consultation with employers, trades unions and others has identified three themes for our charter to champion:
1. Fair employment where staff are paid the living wage and given security and certainty around their hours of work.
2. Inclusive workplaces that support staff and ensure that everyone, irrespective of their backgrounds, is given the opportunity to grow and develop.
3. Justice in the workplace providing all employees a voice at work and creating opportunities for young people to get into work through quality apprenticeships and work experience opportunities.
Today, I’m launching the next stage – as we consider how we will measure these themes and implement our three-step approach to becoming a fair employer.
We will start by inviting organisations to join us as an Aspiring Fair Employer, providing support and encouragement for them to move toward being an Accredited Fair Employer and using our Fair Employers Ambassadors step to shine a spotlight on innovative and excellent practice.
I also want to find a way to support new businesses – who pledge to be a Fair Employer, but lack the expertise and capacity to get them started – to take the next steps along the way. We already offer new businesses support to grow and develop. So why not offer them support to be the best possible employers too?
I’ve always said, I don’t want to be a pro-business Mayor, I want to be a pro-good business Mayor, so I believe it’s fitting that we will be launching our Fair Employment Charter in October at the inaugural Good Business Festival – an international event celebrating the role good businesses can play building a fair, just and inclusive economy.
By working together, we can all achieve the aim of being the most socially just economy in the country.
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