In 2020, a group of Islington Labour Councillors came together to consider how the Council could help protect workers’ rights in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. This led to Islington Council’s collaboration with the TUC to launch the “Join a Union” campaign. Initial work was also started to draft Islington’s Good Work charter.
In 2021, Islington Council partnered with the CAPE programme and brought together researchers, university staff, businesses and unions to look at how the Council can support Good Work. A key area of interest that emerged out of two roundtable discussions centred on the role the Council can play to tackle increasing precarity, insecurity and exploitative working practices in the labour market, which is often manifested through the gig economy and zero-hour contracts.
We are aware of examples of trades unions and communities coming together to develop strategies to organise workers to tackle exploitative working practices. For example, Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise has been developing a model of “community unionism”, bringing the wider community and trades unions together to develop grassroots engagement focused on workplace organisation, and workers’ education.
Islington would like to learn from Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise and explore how it can develop an evidence-informed ‘community unionism’ initiative that fits the Islington context.
What would an Islington New Deal for Workers initiative look like?
- Comprising Trades Unions, Local Trades Council, the Council, the Community, Universities.
- Employing an Organiser to establish a cross cutting campaigning group to share knowledge, engage civil society and organise workers.
- Engaging with academic expertise to build an evidence-informed approach
- To reduce poverty in Islington through improving working conditions and pay.
What will it do:
- Collate and synthesize research to identify what the issues of precarity are in Islington, to find out more about poor pay and conditions, and sector specific work.
- Develop evidence-informed campaigns:
- to recruit people into trades unions/see the positive results of being in a trades union.
- on hyper local issues – that will target specific sectors that are relevant to Islington.
- to improve sick pay.
- Inform broader ongoing work by Islington Council around the ‘good work’ agenda
Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy & Jobs
London Borough of Islington