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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:44 pm on 4th June 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 5:44 pm, 4th June 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for his point. He is not just a powerful advocate in the Council of Europe, but a powerful advocate in this place for the role it plays in helping to make positive change, not only in this country but across Europe.

Trade unions have played a long and positive role in our society; they have long represented their members and lobbied for wider changes in society. They have campaigned on equality issues for women and other groups, helped to tackle child poverty and fought against modern day slavery. They have shown how we can bring about change that benefits everybody in society.

Over the decades, unions have improved the working lives of their members, and this Government hope to see that continue. Throughout the country, trade union health and safety representatives have made our workplaces safer, which not only benefits workers but contributes to our economy, by reducing accidents.

Unions have also invested in people, working to develop the skills of their members. Unionlearn is an excellent example of that. It has helped to engage with more than 50 trade unions in more than 700 workplaces. Unionlearn has helped those with low literacy and numeracy and also helped to recruit and support thousands of apprentices. That is why the Government continue to support initiatives such as Unionlearn with over £8 million over the previous and coming years.