The Unorganised Vulnerable Worker: The Case for Union Organising

This publication links the decline in the number of workers covered by a union agreement with an increase in the vulnerability of workers.

Anna Pollert | Nov 2007
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About the book

This new publication by Anna Pollert links the decline in the number of workers covered by a union agreement with an increase in the vulnerability of workers. The author argues that ‘individualising’ work problems and ‘externalising’ possible solutions fail to address the problems of isolated, vulnerable workers.

Pollert interviewed low paid, non unionised workers for the report. Each worker had experienced problems at work, had failed to resolve those problems through workplace procedures and had then approached a Citizen’s Advice Bureau for help.

However, Pollert claims there is an “endemic weakness in external, remedial support” which cannot ‘shadow’ a problem as it unfolds in the workplace. Such a role can only be performed from within, by workplace representation, with enforcement backed by the threat of collective power.

Pollert notes that most of the people interviewed felt that union representation would have helped but that fear and ignorance prevented them pursuing that route. To correct that situation Pollert suggests the government adopt a more collective approach to assisting vulnerable workers and concludes with a number of specific policy proposals for promoting collective bargaining at work.

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