The Communication Workers’ Union Is a Tech Workers’ Union

Tuesday 22nd September 2020

The Communication Workers’ Union Is a Tech Workers’ Union

This month, the CWU has announced that it is launching a new national branch for technology and digital sector workers.

Programmers, graphic designers, game developers, specialist product teams, testers and more, from small start-ups to tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft are joining the union as part of its new United Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW) section.

The CWU has for some time been a viable option for workers in the tech industry looking to unionise and already has members in the sector. The formation of this new branch seeks to expand on this.

Currently, union membership in the tech sector – an industry which accounts for approximately 9 per cent of the U.K.’s workforce – is estimated to sit at less than 3 per cent.

Global efforts from tech workers to organise in the fight to improve working conditions has led to the conception of a self-organised collective called the Tech Workers Coalition (TWC), which originated in the Bay Area of San Francisco in 2014.

After rapid growth since its launch in 2019, the U.K. branch of the TWC approached the CWU to provide details on the background of their organisation, their current working environment and the issues that come with working in a sector where little to no union recognition currently exists.

They also cited the close relationship between US tech workers and The Communication Workers’ of America, and made the case for why tech workers here in the U.K. should join forces with the CWU.

The union’s National Executive Council (NEC) discussed this proposal at length last month, before unanimously agreeing to the formation of the new branch.

The conception and realisation of the new branch has been overseen by Ray Ellis, the CWU’s Head of Recruitment and Organising – and UTAW’s new de facto ‘National Officer’.

Ray Ellis stated that:

“These tech-sector workers are leading the way as a new generation realise the value of collectivising struggle and begin to self-organise to build industrial strength, and we are delighted they believe the CWU is the best union to help them achieve this.

“It’s clear from the meetings we’ve had with these activists and tech workers that they’re keen to both organise and unionise – and that they want to do this within the CWU.”

General Secretary Dave Ward added:

“It’s indicative of our union’s outstanding reputation in the trade union movement and our innovative communications approach that these self-organised workplace leaders have specifically approached us as the union they want to join and work with to recruit and organise in the sector.

“They align themselves with our radical, outward-looking model of trade unionism and we’re equally enthusiastic about adding this new dimension to the CWU’s industrial agenda.

“At a time of unparalleled social and economic inequality, it is critical that Trade Unions lead the way for all workers in struggle. We need a New Deal for Workers in the U.K. and we must ensure that no worker is left behind.”

The UTAW National Branch will be structured in the same way as all other branches within the CWU and will act in accordance with the union’s rules and constitution.


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