Union support for Manifesto for Labour Law

Submitted by sglenister on Thu, 30/06/2016 - 13:10

Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC

"Since the results of the referendum, the TUC has been campaigning to ensure the vote to leave the EU does not become an excuse to slash workers' rights. It is critical for post-EU Britain to not only maintain the level of protection afforded to Britain's workers by EU law, but also to build on this foundation to create a stronger, fairer and more secure economy for all.

"The IER's Manifesto for Labour Law helps point the way forward to that brighter future. Policies such as promoting sectoral-level collective bargaining – which would allow trade unions to negotiate on minimum wages and conditions across entire industries – are put forth following careful examination of how similar systems have worked to create economic resilience and increased equality in some of our strongest European competitors, such as Germany and Sweden.

"The proposals in the Manifesto are thoughtful and well-evidenced and should be widely read and discussed.

"We would urge all union members to join together as a united front to call for wide ranging reform, and a new framework of rights for working people and trade unions in the UK"

Len McCluskey, General Secretary, UNITE

“We are delighted to support the Institute of Employment Rights’ Manifesto for Labour Law, which provides us with the policy framework we need to move forward with a more progressive agenda in 2020,” McCluskey said.

“Through comparison with some of the strongest European economies, the Institute has clearly demonstrated what we in the labour movement always knew: that trade union rights are a boon to the economy, not a ball-and-chain like the Tories would have you believe.

“Not only has policy since Thatcher held us back from harnessing the potential of our workforce, it has also left the lowest paid and the most vulnerable workers in our society in dire straits. British workers have some of the most stressful and most uncertain working lives in Europe, and CEOs are profiting from it. Our wage gap is higher than anywhere else in the EU. This is a disgraceful state of affairs and UNITE will move to support a genuine alternative that promotes cooperation between workers and employers in the best interests of everyone, rather than the divide and conquer approach of the Tory Party.”

Sally Hunt, General Secretary, UCU

"The UCU welcomes this positive and informed contribution from the IER to the debate on the future of labour law. For too long, politicians and the media have treated trade unions as the enemy within. In contrast, this Manifesto places trade unions at the very heart of an industrial and economic revival, recognising the role unions play in delivering fairness at work and economic efficiency in the wider economy. Congratulations to the IER and its network of experts."


Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON

"Collective bargaining at the level proposed by the Institute's impressive manifesto would mean that terms and conditions negotiated by UNISON would apply to UNISON members wherever there is public contracting.”

“That is extremely important as we have a growing number of members working for private companies and in the community and voluntary sector on public contracts.

"A fair wages clause in public contracts linked to existing collective bargaining would benefit, for example, thousands of outsourced care workers, cleaners, IT staff, benefit administrators and school dinner staff.

“It would mean fair terms and conditions for workers and public contracting, if it continues, would be on the basis of quality and not a race to the bottom on wages."

Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB

"We welcome this excellent contribution from IER to the much needed discussion on how to improve workers' rights.

The Manifesto starts by analysing the growth in insecure and precarious work, including a rise in companies misclassifying workers as self-employed so that they can shrug off basic responsibilities such as paying the minimum wage. GMB has been tirelessly fighting this dangerous trend, and we believe the Institute of Employment Rights’ Manifesto for Labour Law would help us in this aim.

By more clearly defining the term ‘worker’ in the law, as proposed by the IER in its Manifesto, we can prevent employers from claiming those who work under their umbrella are ‘self employed’ when in fact the employer has significant control over them. We also fully support the IER’s proposal to negotiate a minimum standard for workers’ rights at a sectoral level. Sectoral standards will offer certainty and security for workers and turn the tide of business competition based on bosses cutting corners around employment rights.”

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS

"In the last six years we have seen wages stagnate, 100,000 jobs axed from the civil service alone, terms and conditions slashed, and cuts to social security for some of the poorest members of our society.

"While we have been proven right on how fundamentally wrong this failed political project called austerity is, the Tory government shows no sign of genuinely wanting to redress the balance.

"We have called on successive governments to restore central bargaining in the civil service as there are currently more than 200 separate sets of negotiations on pay and conditions - which is not only inefficient but also unfair, as it results in huge inequalities between departments and agencies.

"The IER's manifesto represents a major step towards a progressive alternative that PCS is proud to stand behind. By tackling wage inequality, we can build a stronger, more resilient, and fairer economy for all."

Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU

“Few sectors have felt the impact of neoliberalist policy quite like the food industry, where many of our members are faced with perpetual insecurity through zero-hours contracts.

“Since Thatcher, the Tories have been determined to reduce the influence of unions and decimate workers’ rights. The legal restrictions they have placed on us are making it harder and harder to protect our members. These policies are particularly devastating for the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers, leading to unforgivable inequality in our society. It’s a disgrace that the wage gap in the UK between the richest and the poorest is the widest in Europe.

“It is time for unions to stand in solidarity against blatant attacks on our membership, such as the Trade Union Act, and propose a strong alternative to neoliberalism. We support the Institute’s Manifesto, which provides a progressive legal framework that could bring security back into the workplace and growth into our economy.”

Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, UNITE

"Bringing to court the major construction contractors who covertly and systematically blacklisted workers is an important chapter in the campaign to eliminate this pernicious discrimination. Yet everyone in the industry knows blacklisting persists. Tougher law is crucial but so is industrial collective strength.

“This publication addresses both and I welcome the recommendations,” she said.


Kevin Courtney, General Secretary, NUT

"Teachers’ working conditions are our children’s learning conditions, and with the Government ratcheting up the pressure on trade unions and the public sector, it is more important than ever to protect the rights of teachers and the security of the teaching profession - in order to protect the learning conditions of our young people.

“The Trade Unions Act, which has made it even more difficult for teachers’ voices to be heard, has gone too far. We desperately need a robust strategy to fight back and offer a real alternative to austerity and to the market agenda in our education system. The Institute’s Manifesto provides the legal framework required for a more progressive society and puts us in good stead to build a brighter future in 2020.”


Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary, NUJ

"Once again the Institute of Employment Rights has shown why it continues to play an essential role at the heart of the labour movement. This Manifesto offers ideas, analysis, facts and policy proposals all rolled into a well presented and easy to read publication. It is an excellent educational tool, providing an alternative narrative and a blueprint for the future."


Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU

“For the last 35 years, policy has aimed at destroying collective bargaining and our trade union rights, making it easier to hire and fire workers. With Labour’s leadership the most sympathetic to our cause for decades, and the Tories determined to tear us down with draconian laws like the Trade Union Act, now is the time for the labour movement to pull together to fight for a better future.

The FBU wholeheartedly supports the Institute’s plan to turn the economy and the British workplace, around: providing a strong voice to workers and offering the UK a real opportunity to reduce the inequality that has sadly become endemic in our society.”


Dave Ward, General Secretary, CWU

"Following the vote to leave the EU, it is imperative that the labour movement has a progressive plan for our economy and for workers' rights in this country – the IER has provided the blueprint for this," Dave said.

He added: "For too many people across the country the world of work is now characterised by insecurity, low pay and increasing pressure to work harder and faster, for less. These workers would be the hardest hit by further austerity or any reductions in employment rights and we cannot allow this to happen.

"The CWU fully supports the IER's plan to strengthen the UK's economy by reducing inequality instead. By giving workers the strong voice they need to raise wages, improve working conditions, and further their training and education, the UK can compete by having a highly skilled productive workforce rather than joining a race to the bottom on employment standards.

"It is ridiculous that as the world's 5th largest economy we have the largest wage inequality in Europe. Obviously, something has gone wrong in the way that Britain is being run. With the Labour leadership the most progressive it has been in decades, now is the time for those who believe in a fairer society to join together and get behind the IER's progressive policies."

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of TSSA

"TSSA is extremely proud to back the Institute of Employment Rights' Manifesto for Labour Law. Too many transport and travel workers across the UK are concerned about the security of their jobs and are struggling on low wages - a worry that has only become more pronounced due to the uncertainty that has arisen following the vote for Brexit.

"It is vitally important not only to our members but also to passengers across the country that transport personnel work in safe conditions, that their jobs are secure, and that training is adequately provided. We have seen fares rise exponentially while transport workers have been losing out, reducing staff morale and passenger comfort. In the travel industry, low wages and poor conditions are endemic.

"Enabling collective bargaining at a sectoral level would give us the leverage to fight back against unfair conditions and allow us to ensure minimum standards are maintained across the industries we organise and across the UK, providing us with a good starting point from which to build at enterprise level."

Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT

"RMT works tirelessly to support our members in the face of repeated attacks from profit-grabbing privateers.

"Rail bosses cut corners while raising fares, risking workers' livelihoods and passengers' comfort and safety.

"Seafarers are regularly undercut as a result of the super-exploitation of foreign workers.

"In the transport sector, exploitation is endemic. Not just among workers but among customers who are forced to pay higher and higher fares for a lower quality, short-staffed, service.

"We're stronger together. When we organise collectively across sectors, we amplify workers' voices in negotiations on pay, hours, safety, training. By sitting across the table from employers at sectoral level we can agree a fair deal for all transport workers rather than fighting our corner at every single company. This means less conflict, fewer strikes, happier workers and passengers, better relationships between management and staff.

"RMT is delighted to back the Institute of Employment Rights' Manifesto for Labour Law, and fully supports the implementation of its recommendations."

Steve Gillan, General Secretary, POA

"Prison officers and related grades are one of the many sections of the population that loses out when the government imposes the same statutory minimums and rights across the nation's workforce.

"Our members work with some of the most violent and dangerous sections of the community and they do so in physically and mentally stressful conditions. While the prison population has risen exponentially in recent years, employers are not hiring extra staff and the prisoner-to-officer ratio is now at breaking point. Assaults on our members are rising as a result, yet this is seen as an 'occupational hazard' rather than a matter for the law. And because the government's increased pension age applies to all workers equally, prison officers are expected to do all of this until they are 68 years old.

"Through sectoral collective bargaining, as recommended in the Institute of Employment Rights' Manifesto for Labour Law, union officials with specialist knowledge of the industry can sit down with employers to negotiate appropriate terms and conditions for the prison workforce, allowing us to come to an agreement on minimum standards that actually work for our members and their bosses. Ministers attempting to impose a one-fits-all approach on the workforce - whether in terms of wages or conditions - simply doesn't make sense and creates unnecessary conflict.

"The POA is proud to back the Institute of Employment Rights' Manifesto for Labour Law and support the Labour Party's vow to implement it."

Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF

“It is the job of a trade union to counter the imbalance of power that is inherent in the employer-worker relationship, but anti-trade union legislation and the weakening of employment law has impeded our ability to represent workers and made it easier for businesses to act in exploitative ways that damage livelihoods, the quality of services, and the economy as a whole.

“In the rail industry, we have seen the devastating results, with employers cutting staff to widen their profit margins, slashing pay and conditions, and taking on an increasingly casualised workforce, all while raising fares and failing to deliver much-needed services.

“Under the proposals put forth by the Institute of Employment Rights in its Manifesto for Labour, workers would have a stronger voice at enterprise and sectoral levels, as well as in parliament through their representation at a National Economic Forum and a Ministry of Labour.

“ASLEF supports these recommendations wholeheartedly and the Labour Party’s vow to implement them.”

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