Angela Rayner declared the battle to win over voters at the next general election is “getting started” as she revealed Labour’s vision to boost workers’ rights.
In a speech at the TUC conference in Liverpool, Labour’s deputy leader gave a “cast iron commitment” to push through an employment rights bill within 100 days of entering office if it wins the keys to Downing Street.
The New Deal for Working People would include protections against unfair dismissal, a ban on zero-hour contracts, more flexible working and ending fire and rehire (when an employer fires an employee and offers them a new contract on new, often less-favourable terms).
Ms Rayner said: “I come here with one message today, that the next Labour government will build an economy that works for working people, with a new deal for working people.
“Labour will start by bringing forward an employment rights bill to legislate for this within the first one hundred days of entering office. That’s a cast iron commitment.”
Reaction to Rayner’s vision – politics latest
Ms Rayner also promised to repeal the government’s “vicious” anti-trade union laws, such as its controversial minimum service levels bill.
She said the legislation – which requires minimum levels of service during a strike – is a “spiteful and bitter attack that threatens nurses with the sack”.
“Strike is a last resort but a fundamental freedom that must be respected,” she told the conference.
Ms Rayner said a Labour government would “update trade union laws to make them fit for the 21st century”, adding: “For too long they have failed to keep up with the hard reality of the ground.”
Measures she announced include a ban on the “blacklisting” of union reps and workers, expanding the role of unions to allow for more collective bargaining on pay and conditions, giving unions a legal right to access workplaces and raising the living wage.
She said the deal is not only good for workers but “good for the economy and businesses”.
The speech comes after some unions questioned Labour’s commitment to workers’ rights and accused the party of not being bold enough.
Ms Rayner appeared to nod to that criticism as she called for unity among the movement.
She said: “The battle for the general election is getting started and it’s not going to be easy. This country can’t survive another five years of Tory rule.
“There is no doubt that Labour has to win but to get this victory we have to come together, stand together and campaign side by side.
“And we need your help to get the word out about the New Deal for Working People.”
The speech was met with a standing ovation from those in the audience.
Commenting on the speech Paul Nowak, the general secretary of the TUC, said Labour’s New Deal “would be the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation”.
He said: “Labour’s transformative New Deal for Working People stands in stark contrast to the Tories’ dire record on workers’ rights and pay.
“The Conservatives have presided over an explosion in insecure work and the longest pay squeeze in modern history.
“And they are now launching a full-scale attack on the right to strike.
“The country desperately needs a fresh start. British voters across the political spectrum want more security and fairer treatment at work.
“Make no mistake. Implementing the New Deal would be the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation.”
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