Working Together: Trade Union and Co-operative Innovations for Precarious Work
The assumption of a 9 to 5 job has long gone, but as new forms of work create new forms of risk and with no employer necessarily to turn to, there are a range of initiatives emerging which look to technology and self-organisation by workers to get by. Additionally a diversity of mutual aid solutions are showing the scope to advance worker control.
Historic data suggests that the last decade has seen a greater squeeze on real wages than at any time over the last one hundred and fifty years. The pay of younger workers has fallen at twice the rate of older workers. The share of national income paid to labour has declined. As workplaces change, so trade union membership has declined, weakening an important counterweight to the voice of investors in public life.
Zero hour contract work over the past decade has increased ten-fold to over 800,000 in the UK. Self-employed forms of work have increased by 1 million to over 4.8 million and at 15% of the workforce is at the highest level in forty years.
This report is the follow-up to a landmark report on freelancer cooperatives in 2016. The report Not Alone mapped the emergence of self help and mutual aid across self-employed workers in a wide range of countries, from Belgium to India. In turn, this helped to inspire new co-operatives here, with a key milestone reached with an investment by the trade union Community in the cooperative social enterprise, IndyCube.