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Unions Supporting Economic Recovery

June 9 2010 - UK unions are supporting economic recovery by helping to reduce stress and lack of motivation in the workplace according to a recent report from the TUC. Examples include working with employers to introduce green initiatives, create redeployment opportunities and negotiate pension scheme changes.

The Road to Recovery report argues that providing an opportunity for employees to raise work-related concerns has a number of positive consequences. The report found that unions have a significant role in conflict resolution; employment tribunal claims in unionised workplaces are 1.3 per 1000 employees compared to 2.9 per 1000 in non-unionised workplaces. Union members are less likely to feel de-motivated by changes to working practices. The report cites other research that found union members are less likely to leave their employment, this effect being more pronounced in organisations with higher union membership and active representation.

The report highlights other benefits traditionally associated with union membership: average hourly wages for union members are £13.07 compared to £11.62 for non-members; union-backed legal representation resulted in compensation payments totalling £300million in 2007; and union members tend to have better access to training (eight per cent more likely to receive between two and five days training compared to employees who are not members of a union).

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary commented:

"Unions are well known for standing up for workers' rights at work and negotiating decent pay deals - and with so many companies trying to cut and freezes wages unnecessarily that's an important task.

"But unions' work goes well beyond wages and working conditions. By giving staff a voice at work they can help to resolve conflict and reduce the number of people quitting work.

"Conflict between unions and employers will always generate the headlines. But behind the scenes, many employers are working closely with unions to modernise their workplaces and recover from the recession.

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