Under this government, insecurity, limited rights, economic uncertainty and a lack of legal protection have all become ‘part of a day’s work’ for people in the UK. Workers feel disempowered, disenchanted and disengaged.
Only the Labour Party is committed to enhancing the rights of workers and has a track record of doing so in government. Strong unions must have a central role in a fairer, safer, more secure workplace. A Labour government must re-balance the workplace relationship so that everyone at work is treated with dignity and respect, producing a more positive and productive working environment which also benefits employers and those who buy their products or use their services, whether in the private or public sector.
This requires workplace rights that are stronger and broader in scope. It must also mean giving workers better information about their rights, access to representation, and the means to enforce those rights.
These rights should apply to every person in every workplace, not just those who meet the current legal definition of “employee”. We need to stop employers from trying to get round the law by cooking up arrangements like zero hours contracts or bogus self-employment.
This is why we call for a PLEDGE for every worker in every workplace. Rights at work which are fair, clear, understood and enforced.
A PLEDGE to be handed to every worker when they are taken on.
A PLEDGE so that workers and employers know where they stand.
A PLEDGE so that workers know how to get help when it is needed.
This PLEDGE would cover six main areas:
PAY – setting out not just the worker’s rate of pay, but also the rates of the national minimum wage and living wage, plus other rates of pay in the same organisation, including those of other workers doing the same job.
LAW – what the worker can legally be expected to do. This would include hours of work and include the protections Labour is committed to introduce on zero hours contracts. Maximum and minimum hours would be specified.
EMPLOYER – the obligation to treat workers decently, including a safe and healthy workplace, holidays, maternity and paternity, sickness and protection against dismissal, discrimination or unfair treatment.
DIALOGUE – a voice in the workplace, with rights to be informed and consulted on changes at work, plus worker representation.
GUARANTEE – from the government that the PLEDGE will be delivered and honoured by every employer equally for all workers and the right to raise issues without fear of victimisation. Firms which do not comply will be named.
ENFORCEMENT – what workers can do if the PLEDGE is not honoured, including the right of access to an independent trade union to advise and represent, plus the abolition of Employment Tribunal fees.
We believe this workplace PLEDGE provides a framework for Labour to enhance rights at work for every worker in every workplace, unionised or not. A foundation to build upon.
Positive changes to individual and collective rights can be built into this framework. Workers will be better informed and empowered, with access to effective trade union representation.
Employers will benefit from clarity and a fairer environment, with a level playing field so that bad employers do not undercut good ones.