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Unions 21
| Blog post

Are UK unions ready for a change in government?

By Martin Smith, Senior Associate, Unions 21 | 2 min

At the time of writing, and if the current polls in the UK are right, a majority Labour Government now a distinct possibility.

What could this change mean for unions?

Unions 21 has been convening our unions over the last month to highlight interesting manifesto points, ideas and challenges ahead. We have also explored the importance of learning from previous elections and other experiences from across the globe.

First thing to note is that when it comes to policy and legislation related to work and unions, there is no ’oven ready’ White Paper as there was in place before the 1997 election.

Instead, unions are looking at being involved in nearly 32 consultations from 5th July resulting from Labour’s New Deal for Working People.  Engagement in these consultations will be crucial for unions to maintain the work that has been taken across the movement to improve collective bargaining and worker rights.

With just over three months until these consultations are slated to end, there is no time to lose. However, in terms of capacity, unions may have far more challenges in responding to serial consultations in 2024 than they did in 1997 where many unions had larger research and policy departments. To be effective for members, it will be important to be able to have clarity and be able to push the new government on these issues. 

To help unions, we have collated a list of areas that we think unions need to be prepared to hold a view on. These include aspects such as the Single Enforcement Agency for employment rights, recognition of collective grievances in law, and a host of new worker rights.

Importantly, for unions, there will be changes to union recognition to reflect the challenges of dealing with hostile employers.

We must not forget too, that unions are unique in knowing the intricacies of their sector and how our members can give a true view of the implementation of policies.  Don’t be afraid to shout about it!

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