A number of workers have joined the trade union movement as part of a union’s campaign to push for better pay and conditions, as well as a fairer workplace.
These are people who have chosen to take on the trade unions to push the issue of pay and the conditions of employment.
However, they don’t usually want to be considered unionists, and have a different view of the trade and the way they organise and represent the community.
This is where unionism comes in.
A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveals the way that many workers who join trade unions as a way of unionising their workplace feel about them and their politics.
OECD researchers asked workers from more than 1,200 firms across Europe whether they had joined the unions, and whether they thought unions had a role to play in society.
Half of the respondents thought trade unions were an important means to the end of workers’ rights, with 47 per cent saying they had given trade unionism a serious try, and 23 per cent claiming to have a positive view of it.
The other half thought trade unionist organisations were an organisation that had no real value and should not be allowed to take part in society, with only 8 per cent of those surveyed agreeing with this.
More than two-thirds of the firms surveyed said they were ‘not at all’ confident that unions would be able to make an impact on society, while a further quarter said unions had made a huge difference to their companies, and only 4 per cent thought unions would make a positive difference in their society.
The OECD said unions could play an important role in society if they acted to help workers to realise their rights and to create a more fair society.
It said the trade, union and political union movement could be used as a tool to bring about change in society through a range of actions, including: increasing pay and working conditions, improving public services and health, and making it easier for people to get a job.
The report also suggested unions could help achieve social justice through helping to make trade unions more accountable to their members.
In the report, the OECD said that ‘in the short term, it is likely that the impact of unions on workers’ lives will be limited.
However in the long run, unions could provide important social benefits and improve the lives of many people, as it makes them more accountable for their members’ decisions, rather than a collection of individuals who act on behalf of a particular organisation.
The organisation highlighted how some unions are now attempting to use social media to ‘change the narrative’ around their activities and their political aims, which could be seen as a positive step.
However, the report said unions should not replace traditional trade unions, saying ‘trade unions cannot change the existing workplace’.
The OECD added that trade unions are a valuable and legitimate tool for workers to bring together their interests and fight for better conditions and wages.
The group also pointed out that trade unionists should be cautious about claiming to represent everyone.
It said trade unions should be open to a range to take the ‘long view’ of what they want to achieve, rather then trying to push their position onto others.
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