Covid-19 has supercharged automation and plans to rip-up RPI. We need to focus on the workplace.


“Covid-19 has supercharged automation and plans to rip-up RPI. We need to focus on the workplace.” says Sharon Graham, Executive Officer

The impact of Covid-19 on jobs, pay and conditions will be with us for some time and yet many of the challenges we face are familiar and now we have a choice about what comes next. How do we tackle job losses, the pay squeeze and the rise of new firms undercutting our agreements? More of the same cannot be an option.

The pandemic supercharged change that was already underway – automation has been one of the chief beneficiaries, including powerful new methods of workplace surveillance. It also confirmed to the Government that scrapping the Retail Price Index would be necessary to keep a cap on pay – a kind of velvet coup for pay restraint. And as the health pandemic begins to ease, the political bubble will now turn its attention to paying back debt.

With the Government in power for several years yet and the Labour Party again looking divided and bereft of any coherent vision, it is time to admit that – at least short-term – Westminster won’t be the answer. We have no choice other than to look to ourselves. To believe in the Union and the power we hold within ourselves. Politicians have failed. Now it is time to be Union.

Before the pandemic we had set out a clear, practical plan to tackle our industrial decline. The ‘Top 10’ strategy was based on one premise – rebuild our shop stewards base and grow power at the workplace. We need to put our focus firmly on our core business – jobs, pay and conditions. We need to push on, not retreat and deal with firms like Amazon who undercut our pay and conditions. Firms like this don’t just affect the Sectors they dominate, their impact is felt throughout the economy, helping to set the pace of pay and conditions more widely. We cannot shrug our shoulders as major employers grow in our industries without Unions. Now it is time for Unions to step up to the plate – workers need us more than ever.

Also this month:

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In solidarity,

Sharon Graham,

Executive Officer, Organising and Leverage, Unite the Union

If you need any further information on this please do not hesitate to contact me