Politics

Changemakers 2022: Workers' rights

Meet our 2022 Changemakers who are striving to improve workers' rights.

Weetabix workers on strike at Corby factory.

Weetabix workers on strike at Corby factory. Image: Unite The Union

Every year The Big Issue takes pride in celebrating the Changemakers who are paving the way for positive social change in the UK.

To thank them, we reflect on all the good they have done in the last 12 months and encourage our readers to check out their hard work.

Here are some of the Changemakers who strive to improve workers’ rights.

Right to Disconnect UK 

Working from home during Covid has meant sometimes the line between time spent working and not working has become blurred. This means the #RightToDisconnect campaign, which wants a law introduced that guarantees UK workers the right to digitally disconnect outside working hours, has gained more support.

The campaign wants to challenge the ‘always on’ work culture, which can be a major trigger for mental and physical ill health. The law, which has been adopted in countries including Italy, aims to improve work-life balance by allowing workers to not answer emails or messages outside of office hours. 

ThinkForward 

ThinkForward, which provides long-term coaching to get young people ready for the world of work, has been a lifeline for them during the pandemic. The organisation helps young people develop skills, overcome challenges that keep them from succeeding and facilitates work experience. Coaches, who are usually placed in schools, worked remotely overnight from 2020 to deliver a personalised service. In 2021, they were able to return to face-to-face coaching. 

ThinkForward has a five-year strategy and equalities plan to make sure the voices of young people are heard by the government. Its work will be crucial in 2022 as the job market remains incredibly challenging for young people.

CEO Ashley McCaul says, “Our focus now is to ensure every young person on our programmes has the better and brighter future they deserve.” 

Four-day working week campaign 

“We invented the weekend a century ago and it’s time for an update.” That’s the thinking behind the group’s campaign, which says reducing the working week would benefit society, the economy, the environment and democracy.

The group believes a four-day, 32-hour working week with no reduction in pay would have benefits including lower unemployment, increased productivity and increased tourism.  

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Glasgow bin workers 

Bin workers in Glasgow went on strike for eight days as leaders from around the world gathered in the city for COP26 to find a way to fight the climate crisis. The workers felt undervalued, disrespected and ignored. Striking for better pay and working conditions, the bin collectors drew attention to the need to fight the climate crisis and pollution on our doorstep. They secured a commitment from the council to review pay for all workers on the lowest grades.

Strike map UK 

Strike Map UK is a ‘worker-powered’ map of industrial action across the UK in an effort to catalogue where action is taking place and encourage others. Workers can submit information about their strike via the website’s interactive form, and view and get in touch with other strikes.

There’s even a blog where you can read about how and why people are taking industrial action.

Check out our other Changemakers for 2022 here.

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