labour accused of rowing back on workers’ rights plans to appease big business
According to Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, the Labour Party has been accused of compromising its commitment to advancing workers’ rights to curry favour with extensive business interests. This assertion is made in light of papers that have been leaked and were first obtained by the Financial Times, which show changes made to Labour’s plans for workers’ rights during its national policy forum in July. These changes appeared to be made to head off criticism from the Conservative Party of Labour’s approach to the business community.
In response to these accusations, the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, whose portfolio includes workers’ rights, said that Labour is unwavering in its determination to outlaw zero hours contracts, address false self-employment, and do away with waiting periods for workers’ rights. According to Rayner, these actions mark the most substantial expansion of workers’ rights in many years. She also underlined that the party would reveal extensive information on putting these measures into effect and countering the alleged fearmongering of the Tory party.
However, the leaked text from Labour’s July policy forum indicates potential flexibility in the party’s approach. The initial proposal sought to create a consistent “worker” status that would ensure the same rights regardless of the industry, wage, or type of contract, except for those who were genuinely self-employed. The forum chose to have post-election consultations to create a “simpler framework” that can distinguish between employees and those who are genuinely self-employed while enabling employees to pursue flexible work arrangements if they so choose.
The “day one” workers’ rights plan from Labour, which addresses benefits including parental leave, sick pay, and protection against wrongful dismissal, has also undergone adjustments. In the altered language, it was clear that these rights would not preclude using “probationary periods” guided by fair and open rules.
The new strategy debated at the conference in July received support from several trade unions, including Unison and GMB. Unite, led by Sharon Graham, withheld its support due to worries that the policy changes would weaken employees’ rights.
The adjustments announced during the conference were criticized by Sharon Graham, who said that they had lessened the promised “new deal for working people.” She urged Labor to put workers’ interests first rather than trying to win the favor of big businesses. Graham argued that Unite’s choice to oppose the program was appropriate, highlighting the need for Labor to represent the interests of working people.
Before adding possible policies to the party’s platform, Labor must improve them through the national policy forum. Some parts of the party’s left side continue to worry that the policy forum process has watered down the workers’ rights agenda set by Angela Rayner, despite claims made within the party that the policies will assist both workers and businesses.
Given the purported pro-business bent of the current government, a spokesperson for the grassroots organization Momentum underlined the significance of enacting a thorough workers’ rights strategy in response to the circumstance. To overcome employees’ difficulties in the contemporary economy, the spokesperson urged Labor to remain steadfast in its commitment to a new deal for working people.