Purchasing Power: Putting workers rights at the heart of procurement

Purchasing Power

UNISON has developed a strategy to put workers in global supply chains that make products used in the public sector at the heart of public procurement.

It focuses on developing sustainable public procurement methods initially targeting Local Authorities. It aims to equip our members with the knowledge and ability to further sustainable purchasing practices and promote unionisation and collective bargaining through their workplace. We will do this in a few ways:

  • A suite of bite-sized learning resources: A lot of this work is still being developed but for now you can find previous reports and guidance and in the Spring of 2021, the bite-sized learning resources will be posted.
  • Run a small number of regionally based tripartite training courses bringing together elected councillors, relevant staff and union representatives to learn and trial new ways of working. This will include working with the allies in civil society such as Electronics Watch, global trade union federations and trade unions in producing countries. We’ll learn from our work with local councils and then use it to work with the NHS and other service groups.
  • Over the years, we’ll use the experience, learn lessons and collect evidence so we can influence policy and practice within Government and devolved nations.

Dirty Clean Energy: Sourcing Solar Energy Without Uyghur Forced Labour

Solar energy is an essential part of the UK’s plan to reach net zero by 2030. But 97% of the world’s solar panels could contain materials made by persecuted Uyghur workers who are trapped in force labour schemes and without taking action, that links public bodies to this persecution.  Sourcing responsibly is really difficult, so UNISON has teamed up with partners to provide this informative and practical procurement guide.

What do public procurers say? Read our research reports

Public Procurement during COVID-19

After the advent of COVID-19, this report was conducted during autumn 2020 to test the results of the first report (below) and understand what more needs to be considered ensure that the training curriculum being developed is as relevant and effective as possible.

Towards Ethical Public Service Goods Procurement

This research report was conducted during 2019 to inform the initial development of the training curriculum about good practice.

Ethical Procurement in UK Local Authorities

This research report was conducted during 2018.  It sets out how local authorities are struggling to implement fair labour policies within global supply chains and what UNISON branches can do about it. Whilst slightly out of date as UNISON is releasing new branch resources in late Spring 2021, many parts remain relevant.

Learn more: webinars

Want to learn more about this topic and hear what we are up to whilst cooking, cleaning or doing the gardening? Watch our past webinars.

Dying to Save Lives Webinar 1

With specialists from UNISON and the electronics sector this webinar discusses the problem with global supply chains, workers’ rights and public procurement; shows how what we do locally has a global impact; why it is an issue for UNISON members; and the exciting solutions UNISON are developing.

Watch now

Dying to Save Lives Webinar 2

With specialist procurers, academics and labour rights experts through examining the purchasing cycle and two new UNISON reports, we discuss the regulatory environment surrounding public sector procurement and how well it enables workers’ rights to be respected through public procurement, what needs changing and why.

Watch now