Introduction and summary

For 150 years the TUC, and the unions we represent, have been fighting to change the world of work for good. We’ve won significant gains for working people along the way.

Fair pay – from the ‘dockers tanner’ to the national minimum wage, we’ve fought for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work

The right to time away from work – from the eight-hour day to paid parental leave, we’ve won time to spend on family, friends and leisure

A voice in the workplace and a fair framework for union law – at the heart of trade unionism is the principle that working people should have a say in the decisions that affect them, and that acting together we can achieve more than we can alone. Our right to have a say in the decisions that affect us, to be represented at work, and to be able to collectively bargain to improve our pay, terms and conditions are at the heart of everything we do

Throughout it all we’ve fought for equal treatment for everyone, no matter what their background. We’ve supported women machinists at Ford in Dagenham and Halewood to win equal pay, and the workers at Grunwick to win union recognition and racial justice.

The world of work has changed significantly since 1868, when the TUC was founded. Match factories have been replaced by Amazon fulfilment centres; dockers with Uber drivers. And changes in technology, demography and the climate are set to change work further still over the coming years.

Trade unionists are optimistic about the future. Our past shows that by working together, we can make work better. But at present, the way that work is changing poses real challenges to achieving our aim of a fair deal for workers.

This report brings together the latest evidence with a new large-scale poll on how technology could affect the future of work, conducted for the TUC in the summer of 2018.

Key findings

The report calls for unions, employers and government to work together through a new Future of Work Commission. It would set out how the government can:  

  • Ensure that new technology is introduced with the consent of workers – with new technology agreements agreed by trade unions in workplaces across the country. 
  • Investigate how to boost productivity across the UK, by investing in new technology that can improve the quality of life. 
  • Ensure that the gains from that productivity are shared with workers, setting out an ambition to move to shorter hours and higher pay. The commission should see moving to a four-day week, with no reduction to living standards, as an ambition for the twenty-first century.  
  • Provide skills training for those at risk of losing their jobs as the workplace changes – with a new learning entitlement for every worker, delivered with advice from a union rep. 
Publication Details
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