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TUC Summer Patrol 2023 - on the streets of Leeds and York

Published date
Over two days and across two cities, young trade union activists from across the movement came together for the TUC Summer Patrol, engaging young precarious workers in the retail and hospitality industry.

(A copy of the report that provides full data breakdowns from interviews is in 'related content' at the bottom of this page).

What is the TUC Summer Patrol?

The TUC Summer Patrol is a project based on a model from LO-Norway where for over forty-years young trade unionists patrol the country entering businesses unannounced to speak with and interview workers about their pay, terms and conditions and encourage them to join a union. This is the TUC Yorkshire & the Humber's third patrol project since 2019.

What did the Patrol do?

Across the high streets of Leeds and Bradford our patrol visited 121 workplaces, conducted 74 interviews, identified a number of potential employment breaches and referred 41 young workers, interested in joining a trade union, to the relevant union organising in their sector. 

We interviewed a range of workers on basic pay rates from £7.00ph (per hour) through to £15.00ph (with the majority earning between £10.42ph - £11.50ph) doing all sorts of jobs - bar staff, hotel receptionists, restaurant staff, baristas, managers and sandwich artists.

In our interviews with workers, we discussed their pay, terms and conditions. We also asked more personal questions, such as "what is your biggest workplace issue?" with the two three issues being poor management, understaffing, and low pay. 

Of the 74 recorded conversations, 41 expressed an interest in joining a trade union and given consent for us to forward their personal and interview details to the relevant union organising in their sector.  

How does the Patrol follow-up with workers interviewed?

The TUC Yorkshire & the Humber organised a follow-up event for those who expressed interest in finding out more about their rights at work, joining a trade union or discussing potential employment breaches. In addition to this, and as mentioned above, we have also forwarded on the details of workers interested in joining a trade union (who have given consent) to the relevant trade union organising in their sector. 

A training opportunity for future organisers

The Patrol comprised four Norwegian participants, three members of the TUC Northern region (and myself from TUC Yorkshire & the Humber) and six young UK trade unionists from the CWU and Unite. Ahead of each day’s patrol we ran training courses.

The courses set out the background of the Patrol, the interview form, a quick legal rights briefing and how to have a deep organising conversation with workers. This was followed-up with role playing sessions to help participants familiarise themselves with the interview questions and how to follow-up on deeply felt issues raised by the worker.

It’s the deep organising conversations that are the most important element of the training. Learning how to tap into the deeply felt issues that workers care about, giving them hope that their issue can be won and empowering them to organise to do just that, is how we move disengaged and disorganised workers towards becoming union activists.

International Solidarity

The Summer Patrol illustrates what international solidarity in the UK can achieve.

Sharing ideas, providing opportunities for young trade unionists to meet trade unionists from abroad facing similar issues, and working together to identify new and different ways to achieve our goals. (You can read more about young trade union members learning experiences participating in the Lo-Norway Summer Patrol HERE).

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Norwegian trade unions as we build and develop our Summer Patrol project.

Next Steps

This year was particularly exciting as it was the first time the project expanded outside the Yorkshire & the Humber region. TUC Wales ran their first Summer Patrol project, likewise over two days, with fantastic engagement from young trade unionists and conducted over 40 interviews with young workers.

More TUC regions are now exploring the prospect of organising Summer Patrols across the country to build awareness of workers' rights, trade unions and support young workers to improve their terms and conditions. 

The TUC Yorkshire & the Humber will look to organise its fourth Summer Patrol project next year over five days around July.

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