In his presidential address, John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“We face key challenges in commerce in Europe. Changing working practices, social dialogue, organising through European Works Councils, developing Global Framework Agreements and working hours and work/life balance are all on our agenda for discussion this week.
“Decent work and stable jobs must be a priority for the Trade Union movement across Europe. We have seen the growth of insecure work with millions of workers in temporary jobs, working on agency contracts or employed on contracts which do not guarantee them enough working hours.
“Flexibility is important for many of our members. They want flexible hours, to fit around their home and family life, but all too often the flexibility is only in favour of the employer.
“With zero hours or short hours contracts, the employer can move a worker’s hours around from one week to the next. Making it near impossible for some of our members to plan their finances or arrange their childcare.
“The casualization of the employment relationship needs to be addressed. Europe is facing an economic crisis with employers taking advantage of the shortage of job opportunities, knowing that so many workers were desperate for a job – any job. Many of those workers have taken poorly paid, insecure work, as they had no choice. It is time for this exploitation to stop.
“Exploitation is far less common in unionised companies. Collective bargaining rights for workers are vital in standing up against insecure work.
"We must also address low pay. Campaigning for a Living Wage for every worker, for stronger legal minimum wages and more effective enforcement of those wages.
“This isn’t an easy task. Unions need support in getting workers’ voices heard and UNI Europa Commerce has a vital role to play, with a clear strategy for addressing these issues together. Taking urgent and decisive action, setting ourselves challenging objectives and making a real, honest assessment of our progress, every step of the way.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 433,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion