Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Unions Today Have Strength, Influence and a Powerful Voice; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Unions Today Have Strength, Influence and a Powerful Voice; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Gill Hale

THIS month will see George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer make his fourth budget since the inception of the coalition Government.

The austerity measures introduced by the Government are having devastating impact on the regional economy and employment with their drastic cuts to funding in the region, and their slash and burn approach to the public sector.

Unison is clearly horrified at the Government's blatant disregard for the consequences of the loss of services and jobs on the individuals that are affected by these cuts.

On top of this, the Government is undertaking a massive overhaul of the welfare budget, cutting many crucial benefits to both those in work and out of work.

Who then is the voice of opposition to these draconian attacks? Well, it is the trade unions. The trade union movement arose out of the need to protect workers and develop rights for working people from negotiating terms and conditions of employment to ensuring health and safety at work.

Today, people ask if trade unions still have relevance and I believe that the same issues that led to the creation of trade unions are equally as relevant now as they ever were.

In my union, Unison, I can see the benefits trade unionism brings to the workforce.

In the UK, we have a long history of a partnership approach to workplace industrial relations: trade unions and management seeking joint resolution to negotiations, organisational change, equality and safety at work.

Industrial relations proponents recognise the value that strong workplace trade unions have to offer in terms of communication and negotiating with staff.

Strong trade unions such as Unison protect workers' rights and improve working conditions. In addition we campaign on issues that affect us all, such as welfare reform, an alternative economic strategy to challenge the Government, unemployment, support for community services, equality, anti-racism and diversity.

In the austere times that we are living through, can trade unions make a difference? Yes we can. If, for example, you look at the impact of Government cuts to local authorities, across the region Unison branch negotiators have managed to mitigate job losses and compulsory redundancies by working with local authorities to look at innovative ways of delivering public services that maintain quality services and limit the impact of the worst case scenario that has faced all local authorities in the region. …

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