These promises are a clear response to Owen Smith’s policies on pay negotiation and zero-hours contracts.
Is the collective bargaining plan any good? This Writer doesn’t know. If any experts on employment law are among our readership, feel free to debate the proposal – and Owen Smith’s alternatives – here.
His plan to eradicate zero-hours contracts seems streets ahead of Mr Smith’s ‘single-hour contracts’ idea, though.
Jeremy Corbyn would require companies with more than 250 employees to accept new industrial laws under which they would have to recognise a specific union with which to bargain over pay.
Aides to the Labour leader said a Corbyn government would “repeal” 1999 union legislation that was passed by a Labour government to introduce a new French-style framework of union rights.
Writing in the Observer, Corbyn said change was made urgent by the corporate governance scandals involving Mike Ashley at Sports Direct and Philip Green at BHS, and the row over the decision by the Byron hamburger chain to help immigration officials arrest 35 of its staff who were working illegally in the country. “Even Theresa May understands she has to pay lip service to change in the workplace and the boardroom …,” writes Corbyn.
“But the best way to guarantee fair pay is through strengthening unions’ ability to bargain collectively – giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work,” he writes.
“That’s why it should be mandatory for all large employers, with over 250 staff, to bargain collectively with recognised trade unions.”
Currently a union seeking recognition must show that 10% of employees are members and 50% want them to lead on pay bargaining. If that is not the case, a secret ballot is held and union recognition requires a majority of those voting and at least 40% of those eligible to vote to support recognition.
Corbyn also proposes that all employees be given guaranteed hours which must be specified and written into a contract – bringing an end to zero-hour contracts. If an employer wants workers to work beyond those hours, they must specify the length of additional work along with a reason for asking.
An employer will also have to give reasonable compensation, akin to an “on-call” payment to an employee, for agreeing to make themselves available for additional work, whether they are ultimately asked to do so or not.
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