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Building working class power

How to address class inequality today
Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
Conclusion and summary of recommendations

The trade union movement was founded to build working class power, and to tackle the disadvantage and discrimination faced by working class people. And while the jobs done by working class people may have changed, we know that trade unions are still the best way to achieve that goal.

But we need action from Government to break through the barriers created by long-standing discrimination that has been reinforced by a decade of austerity.

Government should:

Introduced new rights for workers to negotiate for better pay and conditions through their trade unions, including :

  • Unions to have access to workplaces to tell workers about the benefits of union membership and collective bargaining (following the system in place in New Zealand).
  • New rights to make it easier for working people to negotiate collectively with their employer, including simplifying the process that workers must follow to have their union recognised by their employer for collective bargaining and enabling unions to scale up bargaining rights in large, multi-site organisations.
  • Broadening the scope of collective bargaining rights to include all pay and conditions, including pay and pensions, working time and holidays, equality issues (including maternity and paternity rights), health and safety, grievance and disciplinary processes, training and development, work organisation, including the introduction of new technologies, and the nature and level of staffing.
  • The establishment of new bodies for unions and employers to negotiate across sectors, starting with hospitality and social care.

Rebuild the public services working class people rely on:

  • After ten years of damaging austerity, the government now needs to set out a ten-year plan for how to restore our public services to world class standards, with long term funding commitments. This must go beyond schools and hospitals, vital as they are, to cover the whole public sector, and include fair pay rises for all public sector workers.

Introduce new laws to tackle class discrimination including:

  • Make discrimination on the basis of class unlawful, just like race, sex and disability
  • Introduce a legal duty on public bodies to make tackling all forms of inequality a priority
  • Make it compulsory for employers to report their class pay gaps.
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