Professor Jean Jenkins, WISERD Co-Director and Professor of Employment Relations at Cardiff Business School, has been appointed to lead an independent commission into the future of employment rights and devolution in Wales.
The Future of Devolution and Work Commission, established by the Wales TUC, will be tasked with considering the impact that the current devolution arrangements are having on efforts to properly address issues like insecure work, non-compliance with labour rights and the changing nature of work.
Professor Jenkins will be supported by an independent expert panel. The members of that panel will be announced ahead of the Commission’s first meeting next month.
The Commission is being set up following a vote in favour at this year’s Wales TUC Congress meeting in May. It will publish an interim report by May 2022 and a final report by the end of 2022.
The move follows recent Wales TUC research which showed strong support among Wales’s workers for the Senedd to be given greater powers.
According to data from YouGov and commissioned by the Wales TUC, workers back key decisions about Wales being taken in Wales on health (56% in favour- 29% against), education (60%-27%), economic development (53%-30%) and welfare (47%-37%).
Professor Jenkins said: “In recent years workers in Wales have been hit by a series of huge shifts. We’ve seen a steady erosion of many key rights at work, big changes in the sectoral make-up of the Welsh economy, the rise of the gig economy, and the impact of the digitisation and automation in the workplace.
“It’s vital, therefore, that we take a step back and take a proper look at how our labour market is regulated, where power lies, and what changes might be necessary to make progress towards the idea of Wales as a Fair Work nation.
“I’m delighted to be leading the Wales TUC’s Commission and I’m greatly looking forward to working with the expert panel, trade unions and partners, and workers across Wales to tackle some of the major challenges that are facing us in our working lives”.
Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj said: “We’re immensely pleased that Professor Jenkins has agreed to lead the work of the Future of Devolution and Work Commission. She brings with her a vast wealth of expertise and experience on workers’ rights and employment relations.
“For far too long we have failed to examine the way we organise and regulate work in Wales. The result has been a drift towards ever greater poverty, insecurity and inequality. We owe it to workers to seek answers to the difficult questions and to examine all possible alternatives to the status quo”.
Professor Jean Jenkins is involved in an international research project, Operationalising Labour Rights, funded by the ESRC under the remit of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and in collaboration with partners at Cividep-India. Another project, Urgent Appeals: Data and Shared Learning, is in collaboration with the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC). Professor Jenkins is also part of the team researching Trade unions, grass roots activism and solidarity, part of the ESRC-funded WISERD Civil Society Centre.