Unions step up fight for flexible working

Trade unions are ready to step up their fight for flexible working rights, a senior union official has revealed.

The CBI last week predicted a quiet revolution in working practices as it signed a pledge with the TUC to encourage flexible working. But Kay Carberry, assistant director-general of the TUC, said the campaign would be ramped up.

She told Personnel Today: “This is a huge issue for unions, particularly as more and more women join. We are going with the flow at the moment, but those who resist will find that the demand for flexible working from unions will become more vociferous.”

The pledge, signed by the CBI and the TUC, supports not-for-profit body Work Wise UK’s campaign fora revolution in working practices.

Work Wise insisted that allowing people to work alternative hours and from outside the office would benefit the economy, the environment and people’s lives.

Flexible working has been shown to improve staff recruitment and retention, along with productivity and morale at certain firms. “If employers continue to resist, many will find they are losing competitive advantage,” Carberry added. “They will come to realise these changes are in their own interests.”

Susan Anderson, director of HR policy at the CBI, said that not all companies were suitable for flexible working. But she told Personnel Today: “We have made a lot of progress in working practices over the past 10 years – 90% of requests for flexible working are now granted. The CBI is optimistic businesses can go further. I think it will be a quiet revolution.”

Stat of the week: 20% – the productivity gain BT has achieved since 2001 by introducing flexible working for 80% of its staff.

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