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Ministry for Employment Rights and Workers’ Protection Agency

Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock today announce the creation of a Ministry for Employment Rights and Workers’ Protection Agency to “put power in the hands of workers” not the “born-to-rule establishment”

Today at TUC Congress, the Labour Party is announcing plans to create a Ministry for Employment Rights to “bring about the biggest extension of rights for workers that our country has ever seen” to deliver better wages, greater security and give workers more of a say over how their workplaces are run.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, addressing trade union delegates representing over 5 million workers at the Trade Union Congress annual congress in Brighton, said that Labour is on the side of the people against the “born-to-rule establishment that Johnson represents”. Promising to stand up for the interests of the many – “the overwhelming majority who do the work and pay their taxes – not the few at the top who hoard the wealth and dodge their taxes” – the Labour Leader said that a Labour government would transform people’s lives – beginning in the workplace.

Labour is promising that the new Ministry for Employment Rights and Secretary of State for Employment Rights will ensure that “the voice of working people will be heard at the cabinet table, exactly as it should be”.

Under new policies announced today, Labour will “put power in the hands of workers” with a Workers’ Protection Agency to enforce rights, standards and protections so that every job is a good job, and sectoral collective bargaining to set industry-wide minimum standards – giving workers security, dignity, fair pay, and rights in the workplace.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Labour Laura Pidcock MP set out to delegates at TUC congress today the biggest extension of rights for workers in the history of our country, including:

Ministry for Employment Rights

  • A Labour government will establish a Ministry for Employment Rights, responsible for delivering the biggest extension of rights for workers that our country has ever seen
  • The Ministry will be led by the Secretary of State for Employment Rights, a key member of the Cabine
  • The Ministry will be responsible for transforming our workplaces by delivering a huge rollout of individual and collective rights at work and implementing enforcement powers to make these rights meaningful

Enforcement of Rights

  • The introduction of a new, unified Workers’ Protection Agency, tasked with enforcing the law and ensuring that all workers receive the rights and protections that they are entitled to, given extensive powers to inspect workplaces and bring prosecutions and civil proceedings on workers’ behalf
  • Support for good employers through tougher penalties for bad employers who undercut them by breaking the law and tougher consequences for non-compliance with court orders

Sectoral Collective Bargaining

  • A Labour government will introduce sectoral collective bargaining by establishing councils of worker and employer representatives that negotiate collective agreements with minimum terms, conditions and standards for the whole of the sector and guarantee a legal minimum for every employer in the sector to adhere to on a core set of issues, including pay, working hours and recruitment and grievance processes

Trade Unions

  • A Labour government will simplify and strengthen trade union law to help trade union recognition and workers exercise their rights:
    • Making it easier for workers to have their say at work, including allowing electronic and workplace ballots
    • Giving trade unions the right of entry to workplaces to organise members and to meet and represent their members
    • Banning anti-union practice and the strengthening of protection of trade union representatives against unfair dismissal
    • Repealing the Trade Union Act 2016 in its entirety

Individual rights at work

  • Fixing the problem of different categories of workers with different rights by creating a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone apart from those genuinely self-employed
  • Ending the so-called “Swedish derogation” which permits employers to pay agency workers less than regular staff for the same work
  • The introduction of a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing
  • Giving all workers the right to seek flexible working, and placing a duty on the employer to accommodate the request
  • A statutory Real Living Wage of £10 per hour by 2020 for all workers aged 16 or over
  • Banning unpaid internships
  • Banning zero hours contracts by requiring employers to give all workers a contract that accurately reflects their fixed and regular hours

Announcing the Ministry of Employment Rights at TUC congress today, Shadow Minister for Labour Laura Pidcock MP said “Under Labour, the voice of working people will be heard at the cabinet table, exactly as it should be.

“Despite working some of the longest hours in Europe, millions of people in this country – one of the richest in the history of the world – cannot afford to make ends meet and are living in poverty. It is sickening that the 14.3 million people currently living in poverty includes 9 million living in families where one or more adults is working.

“The real value of wages is still lower than ten years ago. Leading CEOs are now paid 133 times more than the average worker. There are a huge number of people who cannot put food on the table, who are stressed with rising debt, buying their shopping on credit cards whilst the bankers who crashed our economy collect huge bonuses and the 1% hoard more and more wealth.

“To meet the serious challenge of such stark levels of in-work poverty alongside the rapidly increasing precariousness of work, we need radical measures. Tinkering around the edges will no longer do.

“A Labour Government will establish a Ministry for Employment Rights. The Department will be responsible for transforming our workplaces by delivering a huge roll out of individual and collective rights at work and implementing enforcement powers to make these rights meaningful.

“For the almost 33 million workers in our country, having a Labour government will mean security, it will mean a more comfortable life, and it will mean they have more power and control over their own lives.”

On putting “power in the hands of workers”, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP said “The next Labour government will bring about the biggest extension of rights for workers that our country has ever seen. We will put power in the hands of workers.

“For 40 years, the share of the cake going to workers has been getting smaller and smaller. It’s no coincidence that the same period has seen a sustained attack on the organisations that represent workers – trade unions.

“We have witnessed a deliberate, decades-long transfer of power away from working people. The consequences are stark for all workers, whether members of a trade union or not. Pay is lower than it was a decade ago in real terms.

“Labour is on the side of the people in the real battle against the born-to-rule establishment that Johnson represents. We stand for the interests of the many – the overwhelming majority who do the work and pay their taxes – not the few at the top who hoard the wealth and dodge their taxes.

“It’s Labour’s historic mission to transform people’s lives, and that transformation begins in the workplace.”

On creating a Workers’ Protection Agency, Jeremy Corbyn MP said “Rights only mean anything if they’re enforced. Too many employers are getting away with flouting laws. Nearly half a million people are still being paid less than the minimum wage.

“We’ll put a stop to that. We’ll create a Workers Protection Agency with the power to enter workplaces and bring prosecutions on workers’ behalf.

If you’re a worker with a boss who makes you work extra hours for no pay or forces you into dangerous situations, you deserve a government that’s on your side and ready to step in to support you.”