TUC fringe to focus on role of unions in promoting smarter working

TUC fringe to focus on role of unions in promoting smarter working to boost productivity

New research that suggests we’re all working harder than we used to ­- while failing to see the obvious benefits of doing so – will be examined at a fringe event hosted by Prospect at next week’s annual trade union get-together in Brighton, the TUC Congress.

Prospect members at Tolpuddle festival

Titled “Working Harder Not Smarter: the employee contribution to meeting the productivity challenge”, the Smith Institute report was commissioned by the Unions21 group of unions, which includes Prospect, and surveyed 7,500 union members.

Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary of Prospect, which represents specialists, managers and professionals across the public and private sectors, explained: “Declining UK productivity growth is a concern shared by government, employers and unions. It is one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth.

“From a union perspective, unless we significantly raise levels of productivity we may struggle to fund our public services, improve our living standards and create a fairer society.

“Unfortunately, the Smith Institute report shows that while the vast majority of members believe they are working harder than just a few years ago, this is failing to produce significant productivity gains in their view.

“It is also clear from the findings that workers have a unique and valuable insight into productivity issues. However, it seems that all too often productivity is seen in very narrow terms or not directly engaged with by the employer. Where there are initiatives, workers are by and large shut out by managers.

“This presents the union movement with both a challenge and an opportunity. Prospect’s fringe will explore how unions can help to establish a ‘high road’ to productivity in which the workforce is much more closely involved in decision-making and where the focus is on driving up quality rather than a race to the bottom on skills and pay.”

Speakers at the fringe include Paul Hackett, director of the Smith Institute; Baroness Margaret Prosser; Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary; John Hannett, USDAW general secretary, and Richard Evans, chief executive of the Society of Radiographers.

Prospect will also be tabling a motion on productivity (Motion 9), which calls on the TUC to work with government and employers to ensure an effective worker voice in tackling the productivity challenge.

Prospect TUC Fringe, Tuesday September 13, 12.45-2pm, Meeting Room 1B, Brighton Centre