Trade Union Access to Workplaces — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:09 pm on 4th June 2019.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 5:09 pm, 4th June 2019

Believe it or not, that did not happen. I managed to survive my experience in fruit and veg largely unscathed. My hon. Friend makes an important point. People never know when they will need a trade union until they do. It is critical that people join, because it is like an insurance policy. We need to educate people in that necessity.

My first adult job was in a shipyard. It was a traditional engineering and manufacturing company—a large-scale employer—where there was significant trade union density. At that point, I joined the Unite and GMB trade unions, because they were the shipyard trade unions. They ably represent the workforce on the Clyde and are often mentioned in this place. I ran into trouble from time to time in the shipyard and my trade union was critical in helping me get through those difficult periods. If I had a dispute with my bosses or another issue, the officials were very helpful. I did not know when I would need them—when a bit of bad luck could strike. It is critical that people understand why trade union membership is so important.