The new UnionDues podcast searches for not one but two of the labour movement’s Holy Grails.
Solving the immediate challenges – and destruction – of coronavirus is clearly the most pressing issue of the moment. We look at the tumultuous events of the week, drawing out the good and worrying, what is clear and what serves only to confuse.
Let’s look for and champion the positives where and when we find them: The government has listened to union concerns and extended the CJRS (aka furloughing) until the end of October. Unions, Business and Government collaborated to provide much-needed (but by no means total) clarity on how the country could start to go back to work. Teaching unions displayed unprecedented unity in responding to suggestions that schools could start to reopen in little more than 2 weeks. Further evidence of unions working well for their members, the profession and the public.
But we also see Key Workers literally putting their lives on the line to keep the country going and look after all of us. The sad case of Belly Mujinga and the determination of her union, the TSSA, to secure justice for her and her family is a sharp reminder that the front line is not always where we think it is. Thank you to you all.
There’s a lot of talk of the protection offered by the 1996 Employment Rights Act and its section 44. Our advice is always seek the views of your union before acting. Not a member? You can find which one is right for you here.
The second of our two Holy Grails is youth engagement and organising. We chat with the TUC’s Clare Coatman about her report The Missing Half Million, the work being done to drive up the membership levels of this, the largest demographic in the workforce as a whole. Young workers also dominate employment in precarious and hard-to-recruit areas such as retail, hospitality and care. It’s a challenge, but as Clare explains, one we can meet.
The impact of coronavirus on these employment sectors and thus the young workers in them is detailed in a sober report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, and the focus of the TUC’s new campaign for a new jobs guarantee scheme.
There is a real risk of Covid turning into a profoundly serious employment crisis. The government has shown an appetite and willingness to intervene decisively in the labour market. It should do the same as we look to the post Covid prospects.
You can access this and all episodes of the UnionDues podcast here. Please download, stream, share, rate but above all enjoy.
Episode 5 will be with you in a week or so. All the latest news, including an assessment of the new ACAS chair (an announcement is due imminently), and featuring our special guest, Rebecca Winson of the New Economics Foundation on community organising and the trade union movement. Don’t miss it.
Thanks for reading – and stay safe.
Photcredit: Josh Applegate/Unsplash