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NEW PROJECT LAUNCH - building tomorrow's unions



What can a union of the 21st century look like? This is the question to be answered by Unions 21, in partnership with Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) at the University of Sheffield in a groundbreaking work to inspire unions to find their place in the 21st century workplace.

Following up from the successful publication ‘Covid-19 and The Work of Unions: New Challenges and New Responses’, the new project will focus on what workers want from unions, explore how this might change our working practices and how unions can use data and digital processes to be independent and relevant organisations.

The work has been made possible by a substantial grant from the Alex Ferry Foundation as well as contributions from supporters of Unions 21. It will begin in July and findings from the new project will be published in a new report that will be launched at Unions 21’s annual conference at the end of November.

Becky Wright, executive director of Unions 21 says:

“In starting this work, Unions 21 is asking a question that no else is - namely what do workers want from unions and how will this shape and influence the way unions look post pandemic. By undertaking this work, we are fulfilling our mission to ask the provocative yet practical questions that help unions adapt.

We know that there are already some great examples and best practices from unions in shaping to fit the future and we’re looking forward to highlighting these union successes.”

Tom Hunt, Deputy Director of SPERI says:

“In the last year unions have transformed how they work to protect jobs and to keep working people safe through the pandemic. It’s been a period of significant adaptation, learning and experimentation.

“As the world of work continues to rapidly change, our new project will look ahead and ask: what do members and people who aren’t members want from a union? What functions do unions need to provide to continue to improve work? What role can data and new ways of digital organising play?

“We’ll be commissioning new polling and focus groups to hear from working people directly and finding out from reps and union staff about the changes that unions are already making.”

Keiran Goddard, Deputy Director of Alex Ferry Foundation said:

“We are thrilled to support this important work. How, when, and in what ways trade unions embrace technological change has significant implications for the future of organising – this timely research has the potential to help the movement navigate a way forward.”

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