We have reached a tipping point on Brexit and pay

We have reached a tipping point on Brexit and pay

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy

Prospect is known for its measured, evidence-based approaches, focused on putting members first and retaining our political independence.

For this approach to be sustainable, we need reciprocal responses from the government, employers and other stakeholders we deal with. To be honest, we are at a tipping point – members need to understand that while we do not choose to be adversarial it may become inevitable.

Take Brexit, and the process for the government to deliver it. The uncertainty that has been created is challenging enough. But engaging in entirely avoidable collateral damage in the course of exiting is irresponsible and bad politics. The potential damage the UK faces from leaving the Euratom nuclear treaty could be avoided entirely with a sensible, pragmatic approach.

Nuclear is an industrial sector where the UK can lead the world. The government should be promoting it, not effectively undermining it with its dogma around the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice – just one example of politicians using Brexit to justify barely concealed long-standing ideological agendas.

Take public sector pay restraint. The government’s unjustified policy of politically punishing public servants is rapidly unravelling.

Be clear, we are not going to tolerate an approach that lifts the pay cap for some, but not others. If this issue is not resolved soon – with money in all public sector workers’ pay packets – we will ask members to oppose the government through real action.

Last but not least, take wages more generally. The statistics prove that wage stagnation is continuing beyond the public sector. With only about 15% of the private sector covered by collective bargaining, that is no surprise.

Without collective pressure, employers are under no obligation to share and frankly, they won’t – or only on their terms. There is only one answer: a renaissance of collective bargaining stimulated by positive public policy choices.

We are at a tipping point. We have to fight for a post-Brexit economic model that does not build on the failures of the past three decades.

Good regulation means good business. Constructive trade union influence will bring rising wage share, safer and more diverse workplaces and reconciliation of new employment forms with good work.

The employers we work with need to wake up. Whatever their surveys may say about staff being apparently “on message”, underneath the surface there is real discontent about job security, not being listened to and the future. Any answers to the UK productivity puzzle lie in addressing this.

We are shaping up for the challenges. Our new contact centre for supporting members, representatives and teams is gradually coming on stream – we will tell you more soon. We have invested in new approaches to our communications and are ensuring we have the resources to respond.

Above all, we need to persuade members and non-members in their working environments to engage with Prospect, or see the balance tip against them to their long-term cost.

Follow Mike on Twitter – @mikeclancy1

This column appears in the October issue of Profile. Read it now online or on the Profile app

Mike Clancy

Mike Clancy


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