Community wants the next government to set out a clear vision for the modern workplace. That should include government acknowledging and then supporting good industrial relations as key to improved productivity and sustainable economic growth, while ensuring that workers are recognised and fairly rewarded for their part in organisational or business success.
Government already has many of the levers to do this at its disposal, not least procurement. With that level of spending power the government has the opportunity to effect some significant cultural change at work by driving up standards and rewarding organisations that value their employees, invest in skills and bring benefits to the wider communities in which they operate.
The coalition has missed those opportunities. We have had five years of ministers championing achievements in employment creation without questioning what kind of jobs are being created. Trade unions know the importance of the quality of work. We also know that employment figures mask a high level of under-employment, which needs to be addressed to resolve the cost of living crisis. If the UK is to improve on its low standing in terms of productivity when compared to most of our direct competitor economies, then government intervention is required, not the hands-off approach favoured by the current government.
In particular, Community wants to see government driving industrial strategies, especially for foundation industries such as steel. Like many other UK sectors, steel needs government action to give it the chance to compete against countries such as France and Germany, which have had no reservations about intervening in energy markets or making procurement decisions that support their home producers.
The only way any of this will happen is through a change of government but trade unions will also need to change too if we are to be relevant to the constantly evolving nature of work and the needs and aspirations of workers in a modern economy.