14 June 2018
In a new report this week, think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) repeated the recommendations made by the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) for employment law reform.
The appointment of a Minister of State for Labour, the re-instatement of sectoral collective bargaining, and improved union recognition laws to make it easier for trade unions to represent their members were all included in both the IER’s Manifesto for Labour Law (2016) and the IPPR’s Power to the People report released on Sunday.
“Achieving better wages and working conditions as part of a new growth model will require a renaissance of collective bargaining and a growth in trade union membership,” author of the report and Senior Researcher at IPPR, Joe Dromey, said.
“The decline of the union movement has contributed to a growing imbalance of power in the economy, and a consequent decline in the share of national income going to labour and an increase in inequality.”
“Public policy has contributed to the decline of trade unions, so public policy must be part of the solution,” he added, highlighting that government attitudes to trade unions has included “a deliberate and ideologically driven assault on the union movement. This hostile environment should now be reversed”.
Indeed, the IER agrees with these assessments and proposes similar reforms, although the Manifesto for Labour Law – which has been adopted as a blueprint for future employment law by the Labour Party – goes further.
While the IPPR would like to see a Minister for Labour that works with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the IER suggests the re-establishment of a Ministry for Labour with a cabinet seat to represent workers’ voices at the highest level. We also recommend a National Economic Forum at which key stakeholders in society – including employers and workers – will help to strategise for future challenges (including skills development and automation), as well as scrutinising policy as to its impact on the interests of different groups.
Furthermore, where the IPPR limits sectoral collective bargaining to low-paid industries, the IER recommends its promotion more broadly across the economy, and that the framework of labour law itself is shifted to focus on collectively agreed terms and conditions rather than relying on statutory employment laws (which should also be strengthened).