The Labour Party has announced plans to create a Ministry for Employment Rights, along with a Workers' Protection Agency to enforce those rights, in what would be a radical change in employment and trade union law.
A radical change that would favour the rights of working people and trade unions. The proposals have been welcomed by Trade Unions, including Solidarity.
The proposals for individual employment rights include:-
- fixing the problem of different categories of workers with different rights by creating a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone apart from those genuinely self-employed
- ending the “Swedish derogation” which permits employers to pay agency workers less than regular staff for the same work
- the introduction of a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing
- giving all workers the right to seek flexible working, and placing a duty on the employer to accommodate the request
- a statutory Real Living Wage of £10 per hour by 2020 for all workers aged 16 or over
- banning unpaid internships
- banning zero-hours contracts by requiring employers to give all workers a contract that accurately reflects their fixed and regular hours
The proposals for collective rights include:-
- making it easier for workers to have their say at work, including allowing electronic and workplace ballots
- giving trade unions the right of entry to workplaces to organise members and to meet and represent their members
- banning the anti-union practice and the strengthening of protection of trade union representatives against unfair dismissal
- repealing the Trade Union Act 2016 in its entirety
Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, broadly welcomed the commitments:-
"Labour commitments should it become a government is refreshing and welcome. Solidarity doesn't tell its members who to vote for, however. That's a personal matter for them.
I'd like to see other parties follow Labours lead and adopt worker and union-friendly policies. We need to build a consensus around the fair treatment of workers and their representatives.
The proposals are based on work from the Institute of Employment Rights and their Manifesto for Labour Law which Solidarity, as a union, has broadly supported for some time."
*This article first appeared in 'British Worker' the weekly internal newsletter of Solidarity union.