Unions and digital disruptors

TUC Digital Lab report

In recent years, new digital start-ups have changed the faces of whole industries. New entrants have risen to dominance in their sectors and previously major players have collapsed. The pace of change has only intensified with the digital-first response to Covid-19.

Unions aren’t commercial businesses but as organisations we don’t exist in a vacuum. We too can find our position eroded by disruptive innovation if we fail to understand how it works or adapt to it.

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Recruiting hard-to-engage workers on digital during Covid-19

TUC Digital Lab case study with BFAWU

Coronavirus is changing how people work and how unions organise. Face to face contact in every sector is being reduced due to social distancing measures, more employees working from home, workplaces opening and closing due to government lockdowns and significant portions of workers on furlough.

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Benchmarking our digital organising

How we adapt union organising to fit a digital-first world is a critical question for unions. Even before the pandemic we were seeing increasing organising challenges from fragmented workplaces and casualised work. This year though, face to face access to workers has been really hard, and many unions have found it hard too to support activists to organise locally where they do have access.

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Working remotely for trade unions

The coronavirus crisis and our response have caused huge changes for all of our society, but it also brings new ways of working. Unions are having to keep on doing the same things they’ve always done but in a really different context. And they’re having to add some new things on top.

This is going to be the new normal for months. And it could change some of the ways we end up working after that too.

So we’re really keen at the Digital Lab to understand the situation and the challenges facing unions, work out where there’s good practice, and discover where there are new areas we might come together to plot a way forward.

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