Search Class

Access All Areas for trade unions

National Organiser Martin Smith outlines the GMB's Access All Areas campaign

Our campaign for more rights for working people since 1997 has produced some real improvements in the lives of working people but has had little impact on our ability as trade unions to re-build our collective power to enforce them where it matters – in the workplace. This can only be done from the bottom up and from the inside out and not from the top down or after a tribunal hearing.

GMB knows that most working people will choose to join a union given a properly free and informed choice. Unions that have achieved significant membership growth over the last decade, such as GMB, have done so with a focus on fighting hard to give people this choice and by promoting collective action as a means to solve workplace problems.

In the teeth of employer opposition to organising, employment law has largely failed to provide real protection for working people's jobs when they try to form a union where they work. Rights to join a union on paper, with no effective means of redress, have failed to convince workers that they are really protected, and fear of the sack becomes a major barrier to union organisation.

The GMB is now calling on the next Labour government to make it a criminal offence for an employer to deny a worker their right to speak to a union at work where there isn't one in place. We are demanding nothing less than an Access All Areas pass for the trade union movement across workplaces in the UK. Freedom of  Association is a basic human right – it cannot be enforced by the newly enfeebled Employment Tribunals.

An Access all Areas pass for the UK trade union movement would underpin all other employment rights, producing rights at work in practice as well as in theory.