At the Rules Conference in June delegates made history be enshrining collective bargaining in our rule book for the very first time. Perhaps most importantly the motion committed the Union “To extend collective bargaining” and bring more workers under Union agreements. This will be key as we intensify focus on our core industrial work.
To match this ambition we must tackle a very different labour market than when we were at our peak. Outsourcing, which together with agency working has already absorbed well over 3 million workers, is set to increase by 4.5% every year for the next ten years. National and sector level bargaining are in decline with site level negotiations dominant. It is in this climate that we need to find effective ways to unite workers and bargain at scale.
So, how can we do this? First, if we are to maximise our influence we need to widen and deepen our collective. That is why we have, together with our stewards, developed in a number of industries ‘trigger’ agreements. In each case, we table the agreement, for example on New Technology, with the top ten employers in a given Sector simultaneously. Through organisation, action and in some instances leverage we demand that each sign. The agreement is triggered when all top 10 sign. One agreement across ten companies in one sector. This deals with the competitive argument and also is an attempt to prevent undercutting.
Of course not every employer is going to agree, some will be openly hostile. And it is in such cases that we must be prepared - if pushed - to act outside of the most restrictive anti-trade union laws in Europe.
Secondly, we want to increase the number of workers covered by bargaining. So, wherever possible we are looking at a single agreement covering all non-direct workers, including outsourced and agency. This fragmentation and division of work only exists so that employers can avoid responsibility. We want to again stop the undercutting.
Refocusing on our core industrial work through Work, Voice, Pay will enable us to assist our stewards and officers to drive through good agreements by Sector.