Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to put power “in the hands of workers” under plans for a big expansion of employment rights.
He announced that a Labour government would establish a Ministry for Employment Rights, saying it would herald the biggest extension of rights for workers ever seen in the UK.
The aim is to deliver better wages, greater security and give workers more of a say over how their workplaces are run, he told the TUC Congress in Brighton.
Labour was on the side of the people against the “born-to-rule establishment” represented by prime minister Boris Johnson, he told delegates.
He pledged 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”.
Corbyn said a Labour government would transform people’s lives, starting in the workplace.
Labour would also appoint a secretary of state for employment rights, and a Workers’ Protection Agency to enforce rights, standards and protections so that every job is a “good job”.
Workers would also be offered security, dignity, fair pay and rights in the workplace under minimum standards set through collective bargaining, said the Labour leader.
He also repeated Labour’s pledge to repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act, and announced that unions will have the right to organise members in workplaces as well as having extra protection for union representatives facing unfair dismissal.
Labour would introduce a statutory Real Living Wage of £10 an hour by 2020 for all workers aged 16 or over, ban unpaid internships and end zero hours contracts by requiring employers to give all workers a contract that accurately reflects their fixed and regular hours.
Corbyn 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.
“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.”
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