5 Big Questions: KATE BELL


How can workers shape the future of work?

What role do trade unions play in the 21st century?

And why is simply talking usually the answer?


In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to trade unionist, policy expert and employment rights advocate KATE BELL



  • Twitter: @kategobell | @The_TUC

Known for:

  • Head of Rights, International, Social & Economics – Trade Union Congress
  • Member – Low Pay Commission
  • Former Policy Advisor, Work & Pensions – The Labour Party
  • Former Director of Policy Advice & Communications – Gingerbread

The 5 Big Questions:

    1. How do you measure the impact of what you do?
    2. How should people/businesses be preparing for the future?
    3. How do we build the workforce we need for that future?
    4. How do you use creativity to solve problems?
    5. How do you collaborate?

Key quotes:

“Trade Union membership has been growing for the last four years. I think in the pandemic many people have thought, actually I need someone to stick up for me in the workplace, I’m genuinely worried not just about whether I’m being paid fairly but is it actually going to be safe for me to go to my place of work.”

“We are a democratic organisation. One of the reasons I really enjoy working for the trade union movement is you have got that very direct feedback. That’s not always comfortable, it can be difficult and people can have very different views. But it’s a very good feedback mechanism. It’s a real advantage of working in a democratic movement.”

“We’ve also been calling for better sick pay. Have we got the change we wanted? Absolutely we have not. The government has not budged. The level of sick pay has not gone up beyond the rate of inflation and there’s still two million people who are excluded. So when I try to assess: my team have been absolutely amazing in the work they’ve done. Have we made a difference? No we haven’t.”

“We share history and values with the Labour Party but we’re not affiliated to anybody.”

“We can shape the future of work.” 

“The first thing I would advise any business to do is talk to your workers about the future of work they want. Where they see the possibilities for innovation and what that means for their working lives. There’s loads of evidence that talking to your employees not only makes them happier but also makes your business more productive.”

Useful links

This episode was recorded in January 2022

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


Never miss another Possibility Club podcast

Access 150+ podcasts featuring a diverse range of innovators, change-makers, leaders and disruptors from across the worlds of business, culture, politics, science and education.

Norman Cook | Andy Burnham | Lemn Sissay | Charlotte Church | Michael Rosen | Jimi Famurewa | Matthew Taylor | Stella Creasy | Tim Harford