AFC Unity Progress with Trade Union Promotion

A progressive Sheffield football club and the local Trades Council have teamed up for an innovative campaign for the TUC’s Heart Unions Week.

AFC Unity is one of a small number of clubs playing in women’s leagues that have been formed independent of an existing men’s club.

Founded in 2014, AFC Unity have marked their identity as a progressive club through campaigns tackling injustice such as their hugely successful Football for Food campaign which has to date collected 908kg of food at 25 events for local food banks.

In a development of this campaign, the club has sought ways to highlight issues behind food poverty, such as low wages and insecure work. A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that Sheffield is the lowest-paid of all the UK’s major cities, with hourly wages in Sheffield £1.15 less than the national average, and 76p lower than they were in 2010.

In a bid to raise awareness of these issues, the club has teamed up with the Sheffield Trades Council, the umbrella organisation for trade unions in Sheffield.

Employees at unionised workplaces have been shown to earn around 12.5% more than non-unionised workplaces, as well as unions helping to provide safer workspaces and highlight and fight together for improved terms and conditions at work. Sheffield Trades Council has a strong tradition of providing solidarity support to trade union campaigns on issues such as low pay.

The partnership aims to promote the benefits of belonging to a workplace trade union with a series of eye-catching and novel posters highlighting the similarities between supporting each other at work and on the football field. Released for Heart Unions Week, a week of activity from 12 – 18 February throughout England and Wales that highlights the good work that unions do every day to offer everyone a voice at work, AFC Unity hopes the message will reach and encourage workers to find out more about what trade unions can do to help conditions at work.

Sarah Choonara, player and volunteer with AFC Unity, has said ‘It is great to develop new ways of promoting the value of trade unions. Hopefully the images and slogans in this campaign about teamwork and fair play will catch the eye of young people and those who haven’t had much contact with the trade union movement, and they will look into it more.’

Martin Mayer, Secretary Sheffield TUC, said ‘Sheffield TUC is proud to stand by AFC Unity women’s football team – a truly fine example of practical solidarity and collectivism for progressive politics. It’s great to show the positive side of the trade union movement in action during Heart Unions Week.’

AFC Unity are promoting the values of trade unionism reflected in Unity’s ethos by using the #UnityForAll hashtag on social media.

You can view, download, and print the posters here:

For more information, go to sheffieldtuc.co.uk

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