The TUC has published a report arguing for greater rights to collective bargaining for workers so that they have more influence over their working lives.
The report, “A stronger voice for workers. How collective bargaining can deliver a better deal at work” points out that workplaces with collective bargaining have higher pay, more training days, more equal opportunities practices, better holiday and sick pay provision, more family-friendly measures, less long-hours working and better health and safety.
In addition, staff are much less likely to express job-related anxiety in unionised workplaces than comparable non-unionised workplaces; the difference is particularly striking for women with caring responsibilities.
But not only do staff benefit, so do employers. Collective bargaining is linked to lower staff turnover, higher innovation, reduced staff anxiety relating to the management of change and a greater likelihood of high-performance working practices.
Likewise, society benefits. Influential organisations from the IMF to the OECD have recognised the role of collective bargaining in reducing inequality, with the OECD calling on government to “put in place a legal framework that promotes social dialogue in large and small firms alike and allows labour relations to adapt to new emerging challenges”.
Despite these benefits collective bargaining coverage has declined from over 80 per cent in 1979 to 26 per cent today. The TUC is therefore recommending that:
- Unions should have access to workplaces to tell workers about the benefits of union membership and collective bargaining
- New rights should be introduced for workers to negotiate collectively with their employer, including simplifying the process that they must follow to have their union recognised for collective bargaining purposes and enabling unions to scale up bargaining rights in large, multi-site organisations.
- Collective bargaining rights should be broadened 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 and the nature and level of staffing.
- New bodies should be set up for unions and employers to negotiate across sectors, starting with hospitality and social care.
Matthew Pull, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented:
“Whilst the employee benefits of collective bargaining are relatively well known, the TUC’s report highlights and evidences the important benefits to employers and wider society of such practices. It has to be hoped that the Government will look to adopt at least some of the report’s recommendations to try and reverse the decline of collective bargaining, and thereby reap the benefits both within the workplace and beyond.”
To read the report in full, go to: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-09/Astrongervoiceforworkers.pdf