Unions' reputations take a nosedive in Westminster

Trade unions and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have seen their reputations plummet in the corridors of power during recent months.

TUC: general secretary Brendan Barber (PA)
TUC: general secretary Brendan Barber (PA)

The second Reputation Index by PRWeek and PoliticsHome was published this week. The index provides ratings for 50 brands, based on the opinions of the PoliticsHome Phi100 panel of top Westminster opinion formers.

Easily the biggest reputational hit this quarter was suffered by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. PoliticsHome editor Freddie Sayers said: 'Trevor Phillips has come under continued fire over his leadership, with the departure of several key people in the commission ... The recent report by the commission into gender pay gaps was somewhat overshadowed by continuing questions about his leadership.'

The Trades Union Congress (TUC), Unite and Unison have also seen their reputations hit - suggesting the recent TUC conference did not impress most Westminster opinion formers.

Sayers said: 'The conference saw the hint of battle lines to come. Understandably, the unions are pushing for an "alternative" to spending cuts - which finds them on the wrong side of the fashionable new political consensus.'

The top ten remains relatively static compared with the first index three months ago. O2 and Costa Coffee both took top ten positions as they entered the chart for the first time - edging out O2's rivals Vodafone and Orange. Marks & Spencer holds on to the top spot, while Google slipped from second place to fourth.

Sayers suggested Google's stumble could be linked to mounting interest in the fact that Google VP for global comms Rachel Whetstone is the partner of Tory strategy director Steve Hilton. He said: 'Questions have been raised about Whetstone's proximity to the Tory leadership.'

In the banking sector, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) remained the least popular brand, while Lloyds and HSBC have also seen their reputations dented - but Barclays was rated higher than three months ago. In the media sector, BSkyB has suffered after its recent attack on Ofcom.

To find out how your company or organisation fares in the Reputation Index, contact PoliticsHome Brand Research on 020 7227 0420 or visit www.politicshome.com




Eben Black, Director, DLA Piper

The unions have been the dogs that did not bark for much of the New Labour era. Now they are back on the offensive over the cuts any future government will make. People know however they vote, they are threatened with a new era of industrial action.

Jon McLeod, Public affairs chairman, Weber Shandwick

As a 'super rights quango' the Equality Commission was always on a sticky wicket with media to start with. However, it has suffered reputational death by a thousand cuts as senior staff have voted with their feet. It is hard to maintain a line when so many lieutenants are departing.




1 (1)* Marks & Spencer 70
2 (3) Cancer Research UK 64
3 (4) Barnardo's 61
4 (2) Google 53
5 (5) Sainsbury's 48
6 (6) Amnesty International 47
7 (7) BBC 43
8 (8) Oxfam 40
9 - O2 27
10 - Costa Coffee 26


21 (12) HSBC 13
33 (38) Barclays -6
49 (44) Lloyds Banking Group -33
50 (50) Royal Bank of Scotland -54


28 (25) TUC 2
38 (31) Unison -13
44 (40) Unite -23


4 (2) Google 53
19 (19) Microsoft 14


45 (30) Equality Commission -28




The PoliticsHome Phi100 panel includes ministers, shadow ministers, special advisers and political editors. For the reputation index, panel members were asked to choose those organisations of which they have a positive impression - and those of which they have a negative impression. The percentage with a negative impression was then subtracted from the percentage with a positive impression to produce a net 'favourability rating'.

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