09/11/2008

What workers want - fair pay, great workmates and the chance to get on

Six million workers (24 per cent or one in four of the UK workforce) are not
satisfied with their job - and almost one in three (30 per cent) do not feel
engaged by their employer, according to a new report from the British Trades
Union Congress (TUC).

'What workers want' is based on an extensive YouGov poll of more than 2,500
people at work in Britain and published in the run up to the 140th Congress
which opens next week in Brighton.

The commonest problem that faces people at work is increased workload, with 11
million workers (46 per cent) complaining of this. This is followed by 'pay not
keeping up with the cost of living' (42 per cent). The top problems group into
three main headings:

Workloads, stress and hours - the biggest complaint is of an increased workload
(46 per cent), with 39 per cent complaining of increased stress levels and 23
per cent of longer working hours.

Pay - just under half the workforce say that their pay has not kept up with the
cost of living (42 per cent) and significant proportions say that their
workplace has unfair pay structures (26 per cent) or they do not get the same
pay as people doing similar jobs for other organisations (31 per cent).

Training and progression - 30 per cent complain of poor promotion prospects and
27 per cent say they lack training - almost 7 million.

Significant minorities of the workforce complain of serious problems. Three and
a half million people (14 per cent or one in seven of the workforce) say they
have been bullied in their current job. Just under two and a half million say
they work where it is unsafe. More than one and half million say they have been
unfairly disciplined. The most commonly reported discrimination is on the
grounds of age which is complained of by 640,000. Nearly six million say they
suffer from boring or repetitive work.

The top attribute that people look for in a job is fair pay (98 per cent) but
only 66 per cent say they enjoy their work. The next popular wish is largely
met. Nine out of ten value 'working with a great group of people' (90 per
cent), and 84 per cent say that they do. The biggest gap between aspiration and
reality is 'opportunities for promotion and advancement', 73 per cent say this
is important but only 34 per cent say that they experience this at work.

In the TUC report, unions get support not just from union members, but from
working non-members too. Six out of ten workers (60 per cent) agree that
'unions provide vital protection for many groups of workers', with only one in
eight (12 per cent) disagreeing. Only one in five (21 per cent) think that
'unions are no longer relevant in today's world' and only slightly more (26 per
cent) think that 'unions hold back companies in today's competitive world'.
More non-members than not say that unions provide vital protection, agree that
employees feel more involved in company decisions where employers talk to
unions and reject the view that trade unions are no longer relevant in today's
world.

The issue that workers most want unions to raise with Government is 'more
protection for the low paid against exploitation by the worst employers' (81
per cent), followed by 'compulsory employer contributions to pensions' (70 per
cent), 'action to close the pay gap between men and women' (67 per cent) and
'more rights and opportunities for employees to get training and learn new
skills' (66 per cent). The report says that these are indeed all union
priorities with important successes:

'The report of the TUC's Commission on Vulnerable Workers has led to the
Government bringing forward a range of proposals to improve enforcement and
knowledge of employment rights. Compulsory employer contributions to pensions
are contained in the Pensions Bill currently before Parliament. Improved access
to training and skills is also a major TUC policy, with the Government now
committed to a right for staff to request training.'

The issues that workers most want unions to raise with employers are first, pay
(86 per cent), second, pensions (80 per cent) and third, safety (77 per cent).
These traditional bread and butter issues are followed by excessive workloads
(72 per cent), stress (69 per cent) and access to training (69 per cent).

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'There are some challenging figures
here for British employers with a quarter of the workforce saying they are not
satisfied with their jobs and almost one in three saying that their employers
do not engage with them.

'While most employees are reasonably content with their lot, there is clearly a
minority who are suffering from real problems such as bullying, dangerous
workplaces and unfair discrimination. There may be no magic bullet for
improving Britain's productivity, but without engaging staff and providing the
training and advancement opportunities they want we do not have much chance.

'But there is good news for unions. We are campaigning for the issues that
matter to people at work, with TUC priorities getting the thumbs-up from both
trade unionists and non-members too. There are lessons here for politicians.
They must speak to workplace issues and the TUC's agenda.'


More info


AplusA-online.de - Source: Trades Union Congress (TUC)