HeartUnions week: Unions are winning for working people, and every worker should join a union

HeartUnions week is about celebrating the solidarity and power of a stronger trade union movement.

Trade unions against hate, PCS union

This week (12-18 February) is the TUC’s HeartUnions week – a chance for the trade union movement to celebrate the phenomenal work our unions are doing to win for working people.

The past few years have seen union members faced with a living standards crisis. A combination of stagnant wages and skyrocketing household bills have left workers struggling to afford the basics.

For years now, nurses, paramedics, rail staff, teachers and other key workers have been telling us that they are being forced to choose between heating and eating.  That is not right.

And whatever sector you work in, workers across the economy are seeing their household budgets shrink.

Last month analysis from the TUC showed the UK is suffering the worst decline in living standards of any G7 country. In fact, the UK is the only G7 economy where real household disposable income per head hasn’t recovered to its pre-pandemic levels.

While other G7 countries are bouncing back, the UK is still stuck in an economic doom loop.

That hasn’t happened by accident. After 14 years in government the Tories have turned Britain into a stagnation nation.

Workers are saying enough is enough. The past two years have been the biggest for industrial action in over 30 years. 

Last year I stood on more picket lines than I have in my two decades working for the TUC. The sentiment on the picket lines is clear: workers have had enough of low pay and dodgy employment practices like zero-hour contracts and outsourcing.

While the government continues to pick a fight with working people through its spiteful anti-strike laws, unions are tirelessly campaigning for fair pay, fighting for union recognition in workplaces and supporting members through thick and thin. 

And unions are winning.

HeartUnions week is a chance for us to spotlight those wins and show there is power in union.  Just ask hospitality workers at Cardiff’s Glee club, who won union recognition in their workplace after reaching out to Unite for support.

And ask outsourced school meals staff employed by Dolce, who won a significant wages settlement thanks to help from UNISON.

Or you could speak to the 100 outsourced PCS members employed by ISS as cleaners, security guards and support staff in three government departments, who took 46 days of strike action last year over pay – eventually agreeing a deal that saw their pay rise above the Living Wage Foundation’s rates, as well as better sick pay and other improvements to working conditions.

And just look at how GMB membership amongst Amazon workers has grown in the past year – with over 1,000 warehouse workers in Coventry downing tools as part of industrial action in the run up to Black Friday – and who are taking action again this week.

I could go on all day. The fact is this: unions have the answers.

For too long the UK has been trapped in a vicious cycle of stagnant growth, stagnant investment and stagnant wages.

But we know it doesn’t have to be like this. We know it’s time for a proper long-term economic plan that rewards work not wealth. That’s why we’re right behind Labour’s New Deal for Working People.

HeartUnions week is about celebrating the solidarity and power of a stronger trade union movement. 

Unions are winning for working people, and every worker should join a union. It is how we turn the tide on cuts, casualisation and two decades of standstill wages. And it is how we deliver what working people are asking for – a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage.

For more information on HeartUnions week visit: www.tuc.org.uk/heartunions

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