UNISON and unions' wider role
A UNISON case study

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Page 1: UNISON's aims and achievements

UNISON works with both employers and employees to ensure that public service workers receive a fair deal. A big advantage for any worker represented by UNISON is that, like many other unions, it takes part in 'collective bargaining'. This means that when negotiating with a management group the union represents the whole workforce. This gives workers far greater negotiating strength.

Single Union Agreements help to strengthen this negotiating role. A Single Union Agreement is when all the workers in a particular business, or even a particular industry, agree to be represented by just one union that the employer is happy to recognise. Both employer and employee stand to benefit from this arrangement. The employer benefits by having to negotiate with only one union. The employees benefit by knowing that, in dialogue with management, workers

' representatives speak with one, credible voice.

As a public service union, UNISON is particularly concerned about the two-tier labour force that has developed in the public services. Under government rules for competition, private sector companies have been allowed to bid for public sector work. They may, for example, win contracts to clean hospitals or schools.

Thanks largely to unions' efforts in the past, people working for public sector businesses are likely to have better pay and conditions than those working for most private sector firms. Being profit oriented, many private sector firms offer their employees fewer holidays, inferior sickness and pension rights, poor job security and lower pay. They may also be more willing to compromise on health and safety issues because of the cost of making improvements.

In this particular matter, UNISON is looking to achieve one of two outcomes. It wants either to eliminate private contracts within the public sector, or to ensure that all workers, whether public or private sector, are paid on a common pay scale and enjoy the same terms and conditions in their employment contracts.

UNISON | UNISON and unions' wider role