Scottish “fair work” vision emphasises importance of collective bargaining


Scottish vision for “fair work” emphasises importance of collective bargaining

Scotland’s Fair Work Convention, co-chaired by former Prospect official Anne Douglas, has today (Monday) published its ‘Fair Work Framework’ , which recognises the important of fair work for individuals, employers and wider society.

The framework recognises that fair work is good not only for individuals, but also for employers and wider society. It identifies five dimensions of fair work: respect, effective voice, fulfilment, opportunity and security. These align with Prospect’s own ‘Good Work’ campaign.

Crucially, the Fair Work Framework says that effective voice is much more than simply having a channel for communication and that collective bargaining helps to ensure that worker’s voices are sought out and influential.

“The challenge of course is to spread better practice into non-unionised sectors of the economy,” says Prospect deputy general secretary Sue Ferns.

Prospect’s work with the New Economics Foundation on the economic value of collective voice  and our work with the Smith Institute on productivity at work (to be launched at Unions 21 conference on 30 March) demonstrates the business case for a different approach.

However, as the Fair Work Convention highlights, a concerted approach is needed using a range of policy levers including legislation and regulation, effective sanctions for poor employment practices, effective use of public procurement, positive role models and mechanisms to share information and learning.

Ferns adds: “Currently this is a vision that may be easier to develop in Scotland than at Westminster. As the Fair Work Convention also recognises, the workplace needs to be at the heart of this activity – and so there is a key role for unions to play.” 

The framework concludes that fair work is a journey and that it is important to be able to measure progress along the way. Prospect’s Good Work Working Group agrees with this assessment, but we caution that it is important to assess impact rather than simply looking at the data that is most readily available. This challenge will be addressed in a break out session at Prospect’s national conference in May.  

“So, congratulations to the Fair Work Convention on their excellent analysis and report,” says Ferns.

“Prospect will certainly be sticking with the journey to fair work across our membership areas and looking to Scotland to continue to provide leadership in this key area of work.”