This week is Heart Unions Week. For those who haven’t heard of it before, Heart Unions week aims to raise awareness of the benefits of joining a union, as well as highlight the need for better security and employment conditions for working people. It’s a really great initiative, backed by all of the major unions.
Here in Greater Manchester, we have a proud history of trade unionism. The Trades Union Congress – the federation which represents most trade unions – held their first meeting in 1868, in the Manchester Mechanics institute. This historic building can be found at 103 Princes Street. In it, working people from all over the UK met and discussed the need for a radical overhaul in workers’ rights.
Over 150 years later, the achievements of trade unions have been truly extraordinary.
We’ve had the Equal Pay Act, the National Minimum Wage Act, Minimum Holiday entitlement and a vast improvement in working conditions. These achievements are thanks to trade unions, and to working people who stood up for what they believed in.
Yet despite these incredible achievements, trade unions are more important than ever. Currently, 3.6 million people are currently in insecure work, meaning that they can’t adequately plan for the future.
One in six working families live in poverty. In Denton and Reddish alone, over 30% of children live in poverty. Over the last decade, many good jobs have been lost, and pay has stagnated.
Working people and families deserve support, proper pay, and good working conditions. These are the principles that the TUC was founded on all those years ago, and they are the principles we must continue to stand up for.
That’s why I’m so proud of Labour’s New Deal for Working People. This plan would strengthen trade unions, guarantee a proper living wage, and give working people and their families the pride, security and dignity they deserve. We’d get rid of dodgy practises like Fire and Rehire, and make sure that Britain is a country that is fit for the future of work.
I would encourage anyone in Tameside, who isn’t already part of a union, to join so that you have the protections in employment that you deserve. You can do so by visiting the TUC website, and there’s a brilliant tool which allows you to pick the union that works best for you.
We are stronger together, and unions give working people a powerful voice to change and improve the future.