Working Together: Trade union and co-operative innovations for precarious workers

Co-operative College, Co-operatives UK

Author +
Pat Conaty, Alex Bird and Cilla Ross

Year: 2018

The assumption of a 9 to 5 job has long gone, but as new forms of work create new forms of risk and with no employer necessarily to turn to, there are a range of initiatives emerging which look to technology and self-organisation by workers to get by. Additionally a diversity of mutual aid solutions are showing the scope to advance worker control.

Historic data suggests that the last decade has seen a greater squeeze on real wages than at any time over the last one hundred and ffty years. The pay of younger workers has fallen at twice the rate of older workers. The share of national income paid to labour has declined. As workplaces change, so trade union membership has declined, weakening an important counterweight to the voice of investors in public life.

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Zero hour contract work over the past decade has increased ten-fold to over 800,000 in the UK. Self-employed forms of work have increased by 1 million to over 4.8 million and at 15% of the workforce is at the highest level in forty years.

With the erosion of the archetype of a fve day week, full time for most, agreed hours job goes the loss of a wide range of benefts in favour of precarious work with limited rights and imposed fexibility. Not all self-employment is of this form, but what tends to be characteristic of newer self-employed workers and those on zero hour contracts is low pay, limited legal protection, high insecurity, limited social security access, limited pension entitlement and limited collective representation. Surveys show that casual agency staf and selfemployed workers are earning 40% less than an average employee.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: the Needs of ‘Precarious’ Workers
Types of precarious work
Employment status, rights and categories of worker
The ‘precariat’ — a new normal emerging
How are trade unions responding to these challenges?
Trade union and co-operative partnerships
2. Campaigns for Worker Rights and Worker Ownership
Using the law
Using technology
London cabbies get organised
3. Freelancer Co-operatives to Secure Worker Rights
Société Mutuelle d’Artistes (SMart)
Unions and co-operatives working together
4. Co-operative Employment Partnerships — Education Sector
Higher education
Music co-operatives
Supply teachers
5. Unions and Social Co-operatives — Social Care Innovation
The crisis in adult social car
Social co-operatives and care services — lessons from abroad
Social co-operatives emerging in England and Wales
Partnership potential with public sector unions
6. Platform Co-operatives and Union Co-operatives
Platform technology & a new self-managing approach to social care
Platform co-operatives, union co-operatives and their future potential
Worker co-operative and employee owned business ownership spectrum
Forms of employee ownership in the UK
Union co-operatives overcoming barriers in the UK
Creating an enabling support system for union co-operatives in the UK
7. Towards a Trade Union and Co-operative Alliance
ILO Recommendations 193 and 204 — an agenda for decent work
Democratic ownership solutions for precarious workers
Towards a trade union and co-operative alliance
— recommendations
End Notes

Source: Co-operatives UK