“I know the value of a strong union. My father was an activist in the Fire Brigades Union and my mother was a school caretaker and a GMB member. I joined my first union at 17 when I was a shop worker at Sainsbury’s and I’ve worked at Unite for 28 years. I fight for a better deal for members every day.
Now more than ever, people need someone in their corner to stand up for them at work. The erosion of employment rights under this government, the proliferation of zero-hours contracts and the increase in temporary employment have left workers open to exploitation.
According to the ONS, the number of UK workers on zero hours contracts went up by 20% in the past year to 903,000. TUC figures show that between 2007 and 2015 real wages fell by 10.4% and average weekly earnings in real terms are still £22 below the 2007 peak of £497.
We are living in an age of chronic insecurity. But just as the economy and the needs of our members are changing rapidly, unions must change too. We need to be more flexible, more responsive and more transparent in the work we do.
Many members don’t know the name of their general secretary, but they know exactly how much of their wages they part with in union subs and they want to see real value for money for that cash.