Mike Clancy speech to Prospect conference: we must revive trade unionism in the private sector

9 June 2024

General Secretary of Prospect Mike Clancy has challenged the trade union movement to address the lack of membership in the private sector and declared Prospect as the union for the future.

Mike Clancy speaking at National Conference

In the speech to delegates today (Sunday 9 June) pointed to the crisis in private sector union membership, and the need for a renewal if trade unionism is going to remain relevant in the broader economy.

“Less than two weeks ago, new statistics were released. And although they showed that the last two years represent the lowest rates of union membership in this country since records began,” he said.

“If these trends continue our movement will be compromised. As I told the TUC Congress last year, the primary crisis of trade unions is in the private sector where membership is at just 12%.”

“If we don’t address a revival of private sector trade unionism, when the right returns to power, which they will, the public sector will look like an oddity.”

He also pointed to the huge challenges the UK has faced in the last two years including rocketing inflation, public services stretched to breaking point, and ministers hostile to the civil service.

On public services he said:

“After over a decade of spending cuts, the public are discovering the services they expect are just not there anymore.

“Whether it is our rivers full of pollution, or that we have fewer health and safety inspectors than MPs, or that our prisons are full, or that we have thousands of vacancies in the Ministry of Defence, every single public service is suffering.”

On ministerial attacks on public servants and pay:

“Valuing public services means valuing public servants. But it’s not just about the cuts, or the low pay, it also about respect and honesty.

“This government have time and again sought to weaponize public opinion against our Civil Servants.

“Whether it’s been attacks on experts, or the blob, or now blaming the deep state, it’s high time politicians did the decent thing, the right thing, and took responsibility for their own decisions.”

Clancy also talked about the importance of the coming election and how vital it is for Prospect members to make their voices heard:

“We’re a proudly politically independent union. We will never try to tell members how to vote. They are intelligent people and can make up their own minds.

“But it feels like it is going to be one of those elections that could define the era to come, for better or for ill, a ’79, ’97 or 2010 election.

“And it’s clear that workers’ rights and workers’ future are on the ballot paper in this election.

“We need a government whose ambition for our country matches the ambition of our members – for their careers, for their industries, for their union and for their country.”