Rise of the mini-jobs will fail UK workers

Melanie Simms wrote for the Unions21 publication: Hit Hardest, Scarred Longest

One of the biggest effects of the economic crisis of the past five years is the difficulty that young people are having finding good jobs. We can see similar patterns at all levels of skill. And we see similar trends in almost all EU countries.


But the problem isn’t just whether or not young people find work. Another phenomenon is emerging: when young people do find work, it is much more likely to be precarious and insecure. We know from previous recessions that when young people experience periods of unemployment at the start of their working lives, the effects can be seen throughout their life. They are much more likely than other groups to end up being made redundant, to experience future periods of unemployment, and to suffer poor health. The real worry at the moment is that there is growing evidence that early experiences of insecure work may have similar effects. Read More…

Views sought on new RPI

The First Actuarial monthly Trade Union briefing reports that less than a month now remains to submit views on amending the way that the Retail Price Index (“RPI”) is calculated. The changes up for consultation could result in gradual changes in the RPI, narrowing the difference between the RPI and the Consumer Prices Index (“CPI”).


The graph below demonstrates the historic differences between the RPI and CPI over the past 24 years:


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All in this together? Race and the recession

jobless written on typewriterA future that works has to work for all sections of society. It is quite clear that the Government’s current approach miserably fails this test.


According to the Labour Force Survey, unemployment among young people aged 16-24 stands at just under 22 percent. This is a staggering figure when you consider that it has almost doubled from its figure just five years earlier immediately prior to the beginning of the Great Recession. But this figure also hides some key differences for different ethnic groups. If a young person is white, there is a one in five chance that they will be out of work. If they are Asian, this prospect rises to over a quarter. For young people from the black community, there is an astonishing 50 percent chance that they will be unemployed.

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Jobs news not good for all

Hopes have been raised by green shoots of economic recovery. Unemployment as measured by the International Labour Organisation fell by 50,000 to 2.5 million in the three months to August, pushing the jobless rate to 7.9% from 8.1%, according to the Office for National Statistics. The number of employed people grew by 212,000 to 29.6 million, although more than half of the increase was a result of part-time jobs.


But commenting on the figures TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “‘These may be the best figures for some time, but we still need to do much, much better. There are still hundreds of thousands of young people without work, over a million people working part-time who want full time-jobs and wages are still trailing below inflation. That is why we need a future that works, where we invest in good sustainable jobs with prospects and in tackling long-term unemployment and the living standards crisis.”


And today’s Belfast Telegraph reports that the number of jobs in Northern Ireland has fallen by 8,000 in the last quarter, construction has hit its lowest level in five years and manufacturing has dropped by 5%.

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Unions should argue for a green economic future forged in Europe

Demonstrations against austerity have swept across Southern Europe in recent weeks, and on Saturday the marches for a Future that Works will take place in the UK.


While Europe burns with anger at austerity, David Cameron fiddles. But his efforts confuse, rather than satiate, his backbenches – and reveal little more than a flawed conviction that further deregulating one of the most liberalised labour markets in the developed world is required for our economy


Cameron is politically trapped in a party that is increasingly agitated by UKIP and is without a coherent strategy either for European growth or maximising British influence within an evolving union, but we should not deny the depth of problems facing Europe. Greek society disintegrated following its economic collapse and even the future of Greece as a democracy now no longer seems certain. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU seems grimly ironic in this desperate context.

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Union Response to the Recession – Negotiating for Jobs and Peace

Joe Dromey photo

Joe Dromey is Head of Policy and Research at the IPA

Ahead of the Chancellor speaking at the Economy Session at Conservative Party Conference (1100-1230), Joe Dromey writes on how unions have helped protect jobs during the downturn.


Despite the right wing press warning of growing union militancy, this recession has been notable for the lack of industrial unrest. On average, there have been 734,000 working days lost each year to strike action. That sounds a lot. But it is the lowest rate of any recession on record. During the recession of the 80s, the figure was 4.3million days per year, and in the 70s it was a staggering 9.9million.[i]


There are two very obvious differences between that era and today. First, union membership has fallen from a peak of 13.2million in 1979 to its current level of 7.3million.[ii] Second, unions are acting within a more restrictive environment following the toughening of labour laws during the Thatcher era. But neither of these factors can explain the scale of the change. With days lost to strikes at just 7% of the level of the 70s, something else is at play here.

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Building union and employer partnerships for a new capitalism

Mark Stuart photo

Mark Stuart is Professor of Employment Relations and Director of the Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC) at the University of Leeds

Ahead of the Chancellor’s speech at Conservative Party Conference (1100-1230), Prof Mark Stuart writes for us on today’s UnionHome theme: partnerships and the new economy.


Should trade unions work with employers in social partnership to forge a new capitalism? This was the topic for discussion at a Unions21/ Progress fringe at this year’s Labour Party conference. The position was put most provocatively by Nita Clarke of the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA). She asserted that unions have no choice but to follow the partnership approach. There is no alternative! Firstly, the mobilising rhetoric of a new winter of discontent is unlikely to bear fruit; and anyway strike action remains at historically low levels and does not resonate with working people. Second, to argue against partnership is to present unions as either stuck in the past or as victims: neither appeals to the new generation of workers that unions so badly need to attract.

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