Labour Research April 2009

Union news

Union fund prioritises vulnerable workers

The latest priority for the Union Modernisation Fund (UMF), aimed at helping unions develop “innovative modernisation projects”, will be delivery of union support for vulnerable workers.

The UMF provides grants, normally of up to £300,000, to unions, for projects which “contribute to a transformational change in the organisational effectiveness of a union” and comply with the UMF modernisation objectives.

The third round of the UMF, provided by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), will focus on “the delivery of new ideas for improving the advice and support those unions and others can provide to vulnerable workers.”

It is in line with recommendations of the report of the TUC’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment (CoVE).

BERR has developed with the TUC a set of five “priority sub-themes” for the type of projects which would receive UMF funding.

These include developing grassroots networks and outreach models to help unions respond to vulnerable workers’ needs, as well as working with voluntary groups to develop support mechanisms. Other criteria involve providing information services and training to raise awareness around employment rights.

Projects can also receive funding if they develop reps’ and officers’ competence, particularly that of equality reps, so they can meet vulnerable workers’ needs and encourage them to participate in the union.