Plans revealed by Labour this week to ban all zero hour contacts, put a halt to unpaid internships and end the cap on public sector staff may have been received as dreamy leftwing rhetoric by most political commentators, but they are in fact our only chance of rebalancing the spiralling levels of inequality that currently exist in Britain.
Included in the 20-point blueprint is commitments to double paid paternity leave to four weeks, promises to increase the minimum wage to the national living wage and guarantee temporary and part-time workers the same rights as full-time employees. Ambitious, political opponents have claimed, and inherently anti-business, most corporations have rebutted.
Good job they don’t have the vote come 8th June.
You see, most businesses will find Labour’s economic plans hard to read. They will be compelled to pay their staff fair wages rather than subject them to conditions likened to Victorian workhouses, made to rebalance the discrepancies between maternity and paternity leave, give all workers equal rights from day one and even abolish employment tribunal fees – so that people have access to justice.
But before you read Labour’s plan in full, read this. Six million people in this country (one of the most advanced economic nations in the world) are earning less than the living wage, a figure calculated to be high enough to maintain a normal standard of living. Four million children are living in poverty, and almost a million now have to face the insecurity of working on flexible contracts that leave some workers sleeping in tents outside depots. Police workers on the front line are so badly paid some can’t even afford to buy their children clothes, and yet we’re still on track to vote in the current administration that caused this mess by an unprecedented amount.
Thankfully, it isn’t yet a foregone conclusion.
Labour’s plan – in full
- Give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent – so that all workers have the same rights and protections whatever kind of job they have
- Ban zero hours contracts – so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week
- Ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when one workforce is used against another
- Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most effective way to maintain good rights at work is through a trade union
- Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces – so that unions can speak to members and potential members
- Introduce four new Bank Holidays – we’ll bring our country together with new holidays to mark our four national patron saints’ days, so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.
- Raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – so that no one in work gets poverty pay
- End the public sector pay cap – because public sector wages have fallen and our public sector workers deserve a pay rise
- Amend the takeover code to ensure every takeover proposal has a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners – because workers shouldn’t suffer when a company is sold
- Roll out maximum pay ratios – of 20:1 in the public sector and companies bidding for public contracts – because it cannot be right that wages at the top keep rising while everyone else’s stagnates
- Ban unpaid internships – because it’s not fair for some to get a leg up when others can’t afford to
- Enforce all workers’ rights to trade union representation at work – so that all workers can be supported when negotiating with their employer
- Abolish employment tribunal fees – so that people have access to justice
- Double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay – because fathers are parents too and deserve to spend more time with their new babies
- Strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy – because no one should be penalised for having children
- Hold a public inquiry into blacklisting – to ensure that blacklisting truly becomes and remains a thing of the past
- Give equalities reps statutory rights – so they have time to protect workers from discrimination
- Reinstate protection against third party harassment – because everyone deserves to be safe at work
- Use public spending power to drive up standards, including only awarding public contracts to companies which recognise trade unions
- Introduce a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing– so that all workers have fair access to employment and promotion opportunities and are treated fairly at work