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WALES TUC Wales can lead the world in ethical employment

The livelihoods of many thousands of people in Wales can be changed for the better when unions seize the initiative, says Unison Cymru Wales regional secretary KAREN LOUGHLIN

WORKING-CLASS people have kept Britain running throughout the pandemic — from the care workers, NHS staff, council employees and school support staff and more Unison represents, to shopworkers and transport workers.

Yet it is these same workers who have been worst affected by the pandemic. 

Many of these workers are very low paid and suffer in-work poverty. A lack of personal protective equipment in the early stages of Covid-19 meant many of them lost their lives caring for us.

Death and serious illness has been disproportionately high in black communities and Covid-19 has ravaged areas of deprivation. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and foodbank use is at record levels.

This Wales TUC Congress we’ll assess the terrible devastation Covid-19 has wrought and remember lost friends and families changed forever.

And we’ll be angry at the increased inequality in our country and how the people who really matter in society are completely undervalued. 

Trade unions must respond with force, seize the initiative and set out how will we campaign for a fairer Wales and help shape the society we all want to live in. 

Unison is clear, we must build a Wales where no-one is left behind.

Thanks to the thumping victory of Welsh Labour, we have a very strong ally in this task. 

I want to congratulate Mark Drakeford both for the decisive election result and for the principled, adept way he’s handled this crisis; such a contrast with the slippery and dishonest occupant of No 10. 

Importantly, the First Minister understands trade unions are valuable partners with expertise to share when formulating policy.

The First Minister has outlined a series of exciting proposals which have the power to transform the livelihoods of many thousands of people in Wales. 

Unison is very much a willing partner and we promise to do our bit, supporting, lobbying and influencing to get a Social Partnership Act and a national care service for Wales on the statute book. 

And we’ll be working hard to ensure Welsh government prioritises an equality-led recovery and investment in high-quality public services and the workers who deliver them.

A Social Partnership Act would place a duty on public bodies to promote fair work including through their procurement. 

At this Wales TUC Congress, Unison’s holding a fringe event on how the billions of pounds spent on public procurement can be a lever for progressive change.

A revamped procurement strategy would mean bad employers bidding for public contracts could not undercut decent employers, strengthening the hand of workers.

It would mean everyone in the supply chain, including private contractors, would earn the real living wage; an end to the abuse of zero-hours contracts and protection for workers’ rights, helping to achieve a more equal Wales for all.

Come and join our virtual fringe seminar on Wednesday May 26 at 1pm and we are very pleased to host the new Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn. To register please email cymruwales@unison.co.uk.

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