Sunday, 7 February 2010

Who is the Vulnerable Worker?


On 24th February the GFTU launches its national project (in partnership with Thompsons Solicitors) which is aimed at providing employment rights advice to 'vulnerable workers'.

The event is in Leeds and any interested trade unionist is welcome to attend. I'll be managing this project in my part-time role as project's officer for the GFTU. Please send me an e-mail to register:

Just exactly who constitutes a vulnerable worker, not least in the current economic climate, is an elastic, fast-changing phenomenon.

As a piece in today's Observer attests the need to provide security and support to the vast army of migrant workers remains as key today as it has been for centuries/decades:

The place of the migrant worker as a critical focus, particularly for the trade union movement, has however expanded into the broader 'vulnerable' constutuency, and in doing so has placed a large proportion of the UK workforce into its bracket.

The GFTU project aims in particular to work with charitable and voluntary sector organisations to reach out to unorganised groups of vulnerable workers via a national series of employment rights fairs.

Innovatively we will be working also with the umbrella body for the UK employment agencies as a way to drive forward improvements in the employment practices of agencies.

This will be a highly challenging piece of work (not unlike others managed by the GFTU) which will however, offer some of the most vulnerable, exploited workers in the UK with essential advice around their employment status.

If you've any views around methods the project could employ to identify vulnerable workers who seek employment rights advice in a unbiased, independent setting please forward this information to me using the e-mail address above. Any other thoughts or comments on the project are welcome also.




ToadBoy said...

ALways strikes me as odd that so called trade union projects are aimed at people not in unions , why is that?

I havent got any advice around reaching out to migrant workers but I can tell you of loads of workers in trade unions who are really worried about their jobs


Andrew Maybury said...

Hi Ian, I bet you really look forward to Toad Boy's pearls of wisdom. As a trade union steward I know of loads of union members who are worried about their jobs. The point being what exactly? Shouldn't rise to the bait really but there you go.

As far as vulnerable workers go, as you say this is becoming increasingly elastic. Of course migrant workers link into this. With a lack of employment rghts we can see this distorting the labour markets. This can only help the far right who then can make the link between migrant workers and a lack of opportunity for 'indigenous' workers. Support for migrant workers to ensure they receive full employment rights is crucial.

Wishing you every success with this.

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Andrew,

Many thanks, as usual, for your insightful take on the posted item.

Yes indeed, Toad Boy is a challenge but then of course no match to your more strategic take on the labour market challenges certain workers (ie migrant workers) face and the absolute 'no brainer' of needing to organise them.

His approach is also dangerous primarily as he seeks to play, as you say, directly into the hands of rogue outfits like the BNP who hope to engender a them and us attitude between groups of workers - the antithesis of trade unionism.

Thank for your support the proposed project - I'll be providing updates on this over the next two years.

Cheers Andrew


ShopSteward85 said...

Can I suggest that the future means the words 'vulnerable' and 'worker' become to mean the same thing?

ToadBoy said...

What a stupid word is vulnerable - what happened to exploited?