Unions have forced Labour to re-affirm its pledges to boost workers' rights

Unions have forced Labour to boost workers’ rights

Trade unions have forced Labour to re-affirm its pledges to boost workers’ rights after Keir Starmer tried to water them down in an attempt to appease business bosses.

The U-turn is sure to delight Conservative leader Rishi Sunak, who will now be able to beat that tired old Tory drum about Labour being in thrall to the unions.

Tough luck: Starmer (pictured with Unite the Union general secretary Sharon Graham) should have known better. He could have avoided this criticism if he had stuck to his original plan, but instead he had insisted on trying to betray the working people Labour was formed to represent (the clue to that is in the party’s name).

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Now, after a crunch meeting on Tuesday, he has been forced to backtrack, and that has made him look weak.

This Site explained the issues in a previous article:

Some elements appear still to be included, like raising sick pay, banning fire and rehire, and outlawing contracts that fail to offer workers a minimum number of guaranteed hours.

But the original promise of full rights from the first day in a job will now be subject to probationary periods of an unspecified length, according to documents circulated to trade unions this week (as reported by John Rentoul in the Independent‘s e-newsletter).

A ban on zero-hours contracts will now apply only to “exploitative” contracts, whatever they are – and who defines them as such?

And it seems collective bargaining, in which unions have the right to negotiate terms across a whole industry, will apply only to social care.

The “right to switch off” – not to be contacted by phone or email outside working hours – will now be by agreement, which raises the question: who has to agree to it – the employer or employee?

And all of the above will now be subject to a consultation with employers, meaning only “draft proposals” will be published in the first 100 days of a Labour government, with the knock-on effect that any changes will be slowed down significantly.

Apparently trade unions are considering the new policy plan to be a “betrayal”.

And it seems they stamped on it hard.

One union source said the Labour leadership had agreed to draft a new document that was reflective of the original policy, signed off by the party and its affiliates in July, which would be discussed again in three weeks.
Left-wing campaign group Momentum said: “We congratulate Labour’s affiliated trade unions on resisting the latest attempted dilution of the New Deal for Working People.”
But the spokesperson argued that the policy, as agreed in the July National Policy Forum, still “falls well short of the original vision laid out in 2021”.

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