Labour’s manifesto: a Fair Deal at Work

Howard Beckett

The Labour Party launched its manifesto For the Many, Not the Few ahead of the upcoming General Election on June 8.

Howard Beckett, Unite assistance general secretary of legal services, highlights some of the pertinent policies for Unite members from Labour’s Fair Deal at Work section of its manifesto.

  • Ban zero hours contracts – so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week.
  • Strengthen the law so that those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract, reflecting those hours.
  • Propose four new public holidays - bringing our country together to mark our four national patron saints’ days. These will be additional to statutory holiday entitlement so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.
  • Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.
  • End the Public Sector Pay Cap – because public sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.
  • Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most effective way to maintain good rights at work is collectively through a union.
  • Abolish employment tribunal fees – so that people have access to justice.
  • Double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay – because father s are parents too and deserve to spend more time with their new babies.
  • Strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy – because no one should be penalised for having children.
  • Hold a public inquiry into blacklisting – to ensure that blacklisting truly becomes and remains a thing of the past.
  • Scrap the changes brought in by the Conservatives in 2014 to TUPE, which weakened the protections for workers transferring between contractors
  • Abolish the loophole to the agency workers regulations (known as the Swedish derogation), which currently allows employers to avoid the requirement of equal pay for agency workers and, in doing so, allows the pay and conditions of employees to be undercut.
  • Invest in enforcement of workers’ rights through the creation a new Ministry of Labour.
  • Clamp down on bogus self-employment by:-

Shifting the burden of proof, so that the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.

Imposing fines on employers not meeting their responsibilities, helping to deter others from doing the same.

Banning umbrella companies, which create a false structure to limit employers’ tax liabilities and limit workers’ rights.

Giving the Ministry of Labour the resources to enforce all workers’ right and involving trade unions in enforcement.

Giving employment agencies and end-users (employers) joint responsibility for ensuring the rights of agency workers are enforced.

“We know that the Conservative’s plans for the next five years will make life even tougher for the working people of the UK and that’s why we’re urging all of our members to play their part in the upcoming general election to ensure the future isn’t led by a Tory government,” says Mr Beckett.

“A crucial part of Labour’s new manifesto outlines how it would provide the UK workforce with a fair deal at work, giving security and strength to empower workers and trade unions. This is something that Unite Legal Services not only welcomes, but is already actively pursuing through legal cases with our strategic case unit.

“The unit was created to tackle the rise of bogus self-employment, agency worker abuses and other nefarious tactics that abuse trade union laws and workers’ rights. Labour’s manifesto promises changes to legal rights that are essential if we are to rebalance the scales in workers’ favour.”