Organising in Tech: why tech workers should join Prospect

Sarah Hughes, Digital Organiser · 14 December 2021

Tech workers – any person who works in a digital technology role in a company or any worker in a company whose primary business is in the digital technology sector – are a rapidly growing area of Prospect membership.

Sarah Hughes, a Senior Organiser in Prospect Union, tells us why she is excited to be supporting the development of the new Tech Workers Branch:

I have been organising in tech for a number of years, first with a small organising project that started in Edinburgh that expanded to Scotland and I am so pleased to see it now encompass Prospect members across the whole of the UK.

More and more tech workers are becoming Prospect members. Outside of our employer branches, software engineer is the most commonly reported job title amongst members and recently there has been rapid growth in membership from this part of the digital sector. Workers in this sector are recognising the need for unions in tech and are discovering what a great union Prospect is and how being a member can help to make a real difference to them at work.

What issues do tech workers face?

When I speak to tech workers I often hear them saying the same things – that they thought they couldn’t join a union, because there wasn’t a union in their workplace. In fact, everyone can and should join a union, it is a legal right. As for the second part of that statement, if you are a tech worker, you can build a union in your workplace. Prospect is the union for tech workers.

Tech workers have been telling me that they have the same kind of issues that we see across many jobs. Pay transparency is one of these issues, it is commonplace that tech workers don’t know how their salary compares to others and in some circumstances they don’t have any clear performance criteria to let them know what they must do to get their next pay rise.  All of this secrecy around pay and performance is a recipe for unfairness, and there is a real potential for equal pay issues. That’s why I gave a talk on Fair Pay in Tech in November. We will be running it again soon in the New Year.

Another big issue that tech workers have raised is a lack of work-life balance. This was another popular talk that was well attended in Union Week

On 15 December I will be hosting ‘Union for Tech’ an event open to all that explores the benefits of joining Prospect if you work in Tech.

Work-life balance is a big topic, what are some of the related issues for tech workers?

One aspect of this topic has been the right to disconnect. We know that tech can be fast-paced and the working day is often stretched, either because workers are required to connect with colleagues in different time zones, or because they need to work outside of other people’s normal working hours. Many tech companies have a long hours culture and the pressure of work can lead to burnout. Progress is being made though as we welcome our recent campaign win for a Right to Disconnect with The Scottish government being the first in the UK to publicly support a right to disconnect.

We know that the world of work is changing, tech companies are trying to navigate the balance between home working and office working and the pandemic has made a profound difference to the way both employers and employees think about this. The global pandemic has made working patterns and practices quite complicated. However, what is not complicated is this: workers want to have a voice in the decisions that affect them. Whether it be on health and safety issues, flexible and remote working policies or just pay and working hours, employees want the right to consult and negotiate where possible. They can get this by building a union at work.

If you work in tech make sure to sign up for our upcoming events and our slack channel.

Union for tech workers

For a better, healthier and fairer tech industry.