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Launch of the Partnership Institute


Today sees the launch of the TUC's Partnership Institute – a brand new consultancy which aims to change the way employers and unions work.

More and more managers and union reps have begun to embrace a new way of working – a partnership approach to problem solving which is more inclusive and less divisive than the confrontational industrial relations style of old.

In an attempt to take the partnership message to even more employers and unions, the TUC's new consultancy – the Partnership Institute – opens its doors for business next week. Headed by Director, Sarah Perman, the TUC's new partnership operation, and its 26 consultants, who are all experts with human resources, trade union or management backgrounds, will be helping organisations learn how to work in partnership.

Offering advice, help and expertise to union reps and managers on the skills needed to implement organisational change, improve business performance and encourage employee involvement, the TUC's Partnership Institute will be actively seeking new clients in the coming weeks.

The Partnership Institute is being launched at One Whitehall Place on Wednesday 17 January at 6pm-8pm. TUC General Secretary John Monks and TUC President Bill Morris will speak at the event, as will a senior government minister.

On Wednesday morning the TUC will be releasing a new publication Winning at work which sets out why partnership makes sense for business, unions and their members.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "Partnership is alive and kicking in both the public and private sectors, with employees and bosses in companies and organisations large and small, all embracing the new, modern way of working. It isn't a quick fix solution, but the results of partnership are well worth waiting for."

To get the ball rolling, the TUC is working with five organisations on pilot projects involving unions and employers at the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust, Electronic Data Systems in Telford and Swansea, Tranfoods Meat Company in Birkenhead, Barclays Bank in London and Northampton, and British Bakeries Ltd (nationwide).

To date, the TUC has undertaken a variety of work with unions and employers involved in the pilots:

  • In the past industrial relations had been very poor at British Bakeries Ltd, but changes in management a few years ago began to change all that. The company – which supplies all the major supermarkets – has 18 sites nationwide which are in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The TUC pilot is working with three sites initially. There are six TUC-affiliated unions involved – the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, the AEEU, GMB, MSF, T&G and USDAW. Unions and management hope that the end result will be more knowledgeable, well-skilled employees who will assume ownership of the success of the business. None of this can happen without a massive behavioural change from everyone. Staff now feel their views are being listened to, and work-based learning is key to the partnership work.
  • Electronic Data Systems is a large software processing company, which runs major IT contracts in both the private and public sectors. In the past, the American-owned company saw trade unions as a drag on the business, but industrial relations in the company have been improving over the last few years. There are currently 14,000 employees in the UK. The first partnership working will cover all staff – IT specialists, managers, admin and security staff – working on 11 ex-civil service contracts including the Inland Revenue, Metropolitan Police and Vehicle Licensing accounts. The TUC Partnership Institute will help management and unions (PCS, MSF and UNISON) work in partnership and will kick off with training for both managers and staff.
  • Until recently industrial relations were atrocious at Tranfoods Meat Company in Birkenhead. The factory, which produces cold meat products for a number of UK supermarket chains, employs 175 people across a range of jobs – butchers, processing operatives, packers, technical staff, drivers, managers, clerical and maintenance staff, and engineers. Previously management didn't listen to the workforce, but now the staff are getting the chance to put their views across. Around a third of the workers have basic skills problems, and the TUC is helping out with training. The union, the T&G, finds management so much more receptive to new ideas, staff are much happier at work, everyone feels more relaxed. The TUC is helping develop partnership training for workers and managers at the plant.

The Partnership Institute: Winning at Work


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