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Unions have become stronger during pandemic, increasing members and helping to protect jobs and improve workplaces

by Alan Jones

UNIONS have become stronger during the coronavirus crisis with increasing membership, helping to protect jobs and improving workplace health and safety, a new report suggests.

Unions 21 said that unions have embraced online campaigning, remote working and digital engagement with members and have gained a “renewed sense of purpose.”

A report for the union organisation by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (Speri), at the University of Sheffield, said that unions have been a key part of the national effort to tackle Covid-19.

They have helped with the furlough scheme and greater provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), the report said.

They are also credited with putting a spotlight on low-paid, unsafe and undervalued work.

Unions 21 executive director Becky Wright said: “We know that 2021 is likely to bring many challenges to the UK and its economy. 

“It will be important that government, employers and unions working together will be crucial to the health and wellbeing of communities.

“Unions have continually shown during the pandemic how they play a vital role in representing the interests of workers across the labour market to the benefit of everyone.

“Their quickness to adapt to the complex issues arising at work has been rewarded by a growth of membership and shows that workers see the value that unions bring.”

Speri deputy director Tom Hunt said: “In 2021 unions are on Zoom, holding mass meetings with members, lobbying the government to provide support for workers and businesses, and negotiating remotely with employers.

“Their rapid adaptation during the pandemic has given unions a renewed sense of confidence, led to membership growth and ultimately protected lives and livelihoods.”

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