Labour Party conference 2016

This General Election campaign has been marked by the Prime Minister refusing to attend events with the public, declaring she will not take part in TV debates to defend the Tory record on the economy, and being elusive in terms of policy commitments on tax and the economy. In stark contrast to Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of Labour’s team have been meeting the country and announcing a range of policies that can rebuild and transform Britain.

As part of this agenda for a better Britain today we have outlined a 20 point plan to transform the workplace, and ensure everyone secures security and dignity at work.

Such a bold programme to end the rigged economy in the workplace could not be more needed as we see a worrying trend of low pay and insecurity mushrooming in Tory Britain.

Six million people earn less than the living wage.

Four million children are growing up in poverty. The Tories promised to make work pay, but more children in working families are reliant on food banks than ever before.

And wages are now starting to fall behind prices, squeezing the living standards of millions.

But it’s not just about pay. Too many people are having their work-life balance undermined by rising workloads, and suffering stress due to punitive performance reviews.

Meanwhile, nearly a million people wake up on zero-hour contracts, not knowing what they will earn today, tomorrow or next week. The birth of the gig economy has taken more and more workers outside of formal employment regulations.

A lack of rights in the workplace -and an accompanying lack of enforcement and action for fairness and equality from Government – are central to these problems, with far too many people falling through gaps in the law.

There is a race to the bottom in pay, conditions and job security. This is sadly set to get worse if the Tories railroad through their reckless Tory Brexit agenda of tax cuts for the super-rich and a bonfire of the rights and public services for everyone else.

Workers in Britain currently have fewer protections than workers in most of the rest of Europe. At the very least, existing rights must be enshrined in primary legislation. As we leave the EU, people’s rights at work may also be strengthened by including them in future trade deals, but this alone will not be enough to change the rigged economy in the workplace.

If we are to ensure that Brexit does not lead us into a race to the bottom, we need to lead the way, not only in preserving existing protections but in advancing them, by ensuring that workplace rights and protections keep pace with changes in labour markets.

For too long, working people in Britain are seen their rights at work, and subsequently their living standards, sacrificed to the alter of austerity, but it hasn’t made them better off, far from it.

Things don’t need to be this way – it only takes a change of government to bring these outrages to an end and build an upgraded, balanced economy fit for the twenty first century.

Labour will strengthen rights at work, taking action to make sure new jobs are good jobs. Rather than a ‘bargain basement,’ tax-haven Britain as envisaged by the Tories, we will upgrade the economy through investment in good jobs and a strengthening of everyone’s rights to enforce a floor under employment standards across the board.

Our twenty pledges announced today will not only improve rights at work but help build a more equal, fairer and productive economy.

In terms of immediate action to improve living standards and boost the economy, we will end the public sector pay gap, raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) to give nearly six million people a pay rise, and double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay. We will roll out sectoral collective bargaining as the most effective way to improve working people’s pays and conditions.

In terms of your rights, safety, dignity and security at work, we will give all workers equal rights from day one, ban exploitative zero hour contracts to improve job security and strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy.

We will repeal the draconian Trade Union Act and work productively with trade unions in the interests of working people and a fairer, productive economy.

Labour’s plan will not only extend the rights of working people, but ensure the enforcement of these rights too, including the abolition of employment tribunal fees so that people have access to justice. We will also introduce a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing.

Unlike the Tories, we will not shy away from using the government’s spending power to drive up standards, for example, awarding public contracts only to companies which recognise trade unions.

Labour will not only change the balance of power in society, it will also ensure fairness in your place of work – together, we can end the rigged economy and build a new Britain, many not just the few.