Labour’s Employment Green Paper contains a list of pledges that, if turned into law would open thousands of workplaces to unionisation drives. I want to make that law a reality in the first year of a Labour government.
I want to see union organisers given access to every workplace by law; a fair pay agreement negotiated in every sector of industry; full employments rights for every worker from day one of the job; an end to zero hours contracts, bogus self employment and fire-and-rehire.
But decades of experience as a trade union rep tell me this will not be easy. The UK’s entire business model has been constructed around insecure work, unequal pay, and stagnating real wages. As an NUJ activist in the late 1990s I saw Labour’s Employment Relations Act watered down by corporate pressure.
That’s why, in addition to strong trade union representation in parliament, we need to get ready for a workers’ rights campaign led by Labour and the unions in every town and city. On day one of a Labour government there should be a Labour-led call to organise the unorganised, to claim the new rights and living wages our manifesto will promise them.
If we want a government as transformative as Attlee’s in 1945, we can’t keep trade union laws designed by Thatcher and Truss. We need to scrap the Tory anti-union laws.
And wherever Labour is holds power – from councils to city regions to the new national industrial strategy we’ve pledged – I want to see unions recognised as statutory social partners.
In the meantime, as health and education workers join posties, telecoms workers and railway workers resisting pay cuts, I will stand with them.