Trade Unions

War on Want has worked with the British labour movement for almost sixty years. Trade unions at all levels have been key supporters of War on Want and we have developed strong and lasting links. 

Our current work with unions, fighting for workers' rights and justice, includes:

War on Want - a history of solidarity

War on Want has worked with the British labour movement for almost sixty years. Trade unions at all levels have been key supporters of War on Want and we have developed strong and lasting links.

As long ago as 1981, War on Want launched a "One hour's pay" campaign with the support of Harold Wilson and the British labour movement. The campaign raised the issue of poverty and unemployment in the UK and in the developing world and called on supporters to donate one hour's pay. It raised £10k and attracted trade union members, celebrities and the general public who subsequently became involved in a War on Want supported "People's March for Jobs".

By 1985 we had 16 national trade unions affiliated or contributing regularly (we now have 25). Trade unions have also been responsible for providing practical help. In order to support our partners in Western Sahara, the FBU took fire tenders out to Algeria loaded with materials to help build air-conditioned warehouses so that those Saharawi living in exile in refugee camps would be able to store food.

Trade unions have not only supported our campaigns, but have also offered invaluable support for our partners. The trade union Prospect has supported our partner, Cactus in Colombia an organisation that offers advice to workers in the flower industry who are trying to organise as trade unions.

More recently, in 2009 many trade unions signed up to our Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign. Unite the union helped to fund a visit from our partners in Honduras and is supporting our 2010 Annual Conference.

#SportsDirectShame & Unite Community

Low pay and insecure zero-hour contracts are the norm for workers at the Shirebrook warehouse, Nottinghamshire, who are routinely ‘named and shamed’ over loud-speaker if management think they're not working hard enough. Sports Direct also operates a draconian ‘six strikes and you’re out’ policy, with offences including offences talking and toilet breaks.

War on Want stands with Unite Community to demand Sports Direct employs all workers on fixed hour permanent contracts, pays a living wage and ditches its appalling work practices. 

Find out more about Unite Community

Fast Food Rights & the Bakers Union

For too long, workers in the fast food industry have faced exploitation, while the likes of McDonald’s dodge their taxes and profit from the misery of working people. As McDonald's siphons off its profits to tax havens, its workers are paid poverty wages and forced to tolerate the uncertainty of zero-hour contracts.

War on Want has long fought for the rights of workers and stands proudly beside fast food workers in the UK, the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BFAWU) and the US Fight For $15 movement, in the global struggle for a living wage, better working conditions and union rights. 

Find out more about the Bakers Union 

Tax Justice and PCS Union

Tax plays a vital role in society, redistributing wealth, funding vital services and tackling poverty. Yet companies and wealthy individuals dodge billions of pounds in tax every year. By cracking down on tax dodging we could fund public services and avoid cuts that hit the poorest hardest.

In the UK tax evasion and avoidance cost the UK economy £119billion in 2013/14. The UK also allows multinational companies to dodge tax through a global network of tax havens. War on Want is proud to stand with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the fight for tax justice.

Tax Justice FAQ

Get involved!

War on Want attends a handful of trade union conferences each summer, but we can't go to them all.

That's why we need your help to spread the message! If you are going to your union conference would you be willing to:

  • Collect signatures for a petition
  • Fundraise for us by collecting donations or giving out membership leaflets?

We can send you a range of campaigning materials including reports, briefings, action cards and stickers and offer advice on how to get the message out and gather support for our work.

We are always looking for people who can give a War on Want talk locally. We would provide you with a prepared talk and answer any questions you may have. This would really help us out as we want to be able to reach as many branches and regions as we can. If you are interested in bringing the fight for global justice to your local event, please email us ( and let us know! See below for other useful links to get you started


Take action

War on Want depends on the commitment of its many thousands of supporters, members, affiliates, donors and volunteers.

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