Work Experience Schemes and Other Unpaid Work

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2013 National LGBT Conference
1 October 2013

Conference notes that:

1. The economic recession that began in 2008 has had profound effects upon the labour market leading to growing inequality and a growing distinction between “core” and “peripheral” workers. Among the worst affected are young workers and workers already subject to prejudice and discrimination on grounds including disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and on account of being working class;

2. The recovery has so far been too weak to reverse any of this and is likely to remain so. Some of it will turn out to be structural and permanent;

3. Among the new features of the labour market are a growing number and variety of schemes of work experience and unpaid work including ones based in workplaces where UNISON organises thus with an impact upon existing members as well as the individuals taking part in the schemes.

Conference also notes that UNISON only admits as members those employed within the scope of Rule C1 or undertaking a course of training or study designed to lead to becoming so employed. People working in our midst on schemes of work experience or unpaid work may not become members.

Conference recognises how important it is for trades unions to engage in public activity and build links with community organisations especially, now, to mobilise opposition to “Austerity”. It recognises, in particular, the role and record of the Self-Organised Groups with activities like the UNISON stalls at Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride events and the opportunities these bring to promote trades unionism to young people and others we may find hard to reach. They are often the workers who face greatest disadvantage in the labour market and more likely to find themselves on a scheme of work experience or unpaid work than on a course of training or study.

Conference believes that to be credible, to win people’s support and to attract the next generation of trades unionists we must not let it appear again that trades unions are only for a minority or, worse, that again trades unions defend privilege and exclusion.

Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

A. Investigate, consult as appropriate and consider whether eligibility for full membership should extend to workers taking part in schemes of work experience or unpaid work designed to lead to becoming employed within the scope of Rule C1 and, if not, how otherwise the trade union movement can offer solidarity and support to such vulnerable workers; and,

B. Report with proposals (in the form of a motion capable of amendment and debate) to National Delegate Conference next year.