“Devil will be in the detail” of Labour Party’s ‘new deal for working people’

The IER welcomes the Labour Party's continued commitment to trade union rights, but warns that careful policymaking is critical to its success.

26 Jul 2021| News

The Labour Party’s “new deal for working people”, announced today by Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, commits to the following employment protections:

Trade union rights

  • Strengthening of trade unions
  • Increasing the number of workers covered by collective agreements

Statutory rights

  • Full rights from day one on the job
  • The immediate outlawing of ‘fire and rehire’
  • A new right to work flexibly
  • Tackling harassment and discrimination at work
  • A real living wage of at least £10 an hour

Industrial strategy

  • Using public procurement to support local businesses
  • Investment in high-quality, well-paid green jobs
  • A level tax playing field between multinationals and small businesses
  • A guarantee of quality education, training or employment for young people
  • Tens of thousands of apprenticeships, by ending the “Treasury’s raid” on the apprenticeship levy

Responding to the announcement, Professor Keith Ewing, President of the IER, said:

“We welcome the Labour Party’s continued commitment to many of the IER’s Manifesto for Labour Law recommendations, originally adopted by the Party in 2016, including strengthening trade union rights, promoting access to collective bargaining arrangements, day one rights for workers, stronger protections against discrimination and harassment, harnessing the power of public procurement to promote fair workplaces, and a real living wage.

“However, the devil will be in the detail. It is vital that sectoral collective bargaining – rather than simply at enterprise level – becomes the focus of this effort. Much modern research has shown that this is the best way to raise pay and conditions at work, as well as resist unscrupulous employers’ attempts to undermine unions. This push should be bolstered through public procurement by including as conditions of public contracts that employers recognise trade unions and adhere to collective agreements.

“Sectoral collective bargaining will go a long way to reducing insecure working arrangements, but Labour is right to underpin this by providing workers with their statutory rights from day one. For this to be effective, it is critical that the Party reforms the UK’s over-complicated employment status system and replaces it with a universal status of ‘worker’ that is eligible for all workers’ rights. Lord John Hendy QC’s Status of Workers Bill – currently passing through the Lords – lays out the legislative path for doing so.

It is also important that Labour policy at least meets, as a minimum, the requirements of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded with the EU to govern our future relationship. This means full compliance with all ILO Conventions this country has ratified, as well as the Council of Europe Social Charter’s provisions we have accepted.”