A bit more than a ban on ‘zero hours abuse’
Working people and parents of teenagers about to enter work will welcome the promise to end the abuse of zero hours contracts; if Labour wins the general election they will require employers to give workers a regular contract if they’ve been working regular hours for 12 weeks. There is the expected outcry from a relatively small number of employers (you have to wonder how they managed to run a business before zero hours contracts were so prevalent).
Labour’s manifesto for work went much further than last week’s zero hours headlines suggested though. It outlined responses to a number of the concerns faced by workers today, including a pledge to raise the National Minimum Wage to £8 Minimum Wage by 2020, introducing Industry wide task forces on productivity and pay, promoting an extension of the Living Wage and a new 10p starting rate of tax, all addressing the critical need for a pay rise for the vast majority of working people.
There was also a commitment to introduce worker representatives on Remuneration Committees of Company Boards, in an effort to address soaring inequality in pay. And further equality measures, including extending free child care, doubling paternity leave and guaranteeing apprenticeships.
The Manifesto for Work also includes pledges to tighten up failing rights at work, ending the practice of agencies only recruiting workers from abroad in an effort to enable employers to lower terms and conditions here, ending the Swedish derogation and looking at how to end bogus self-employment. Labour would also end Employment Tribunal charges that have prevented thousands of workers from pursuing justice through the legal system and will extend the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to cover other sectors where we know there is prevalent abuse of workers’ rights.
There was a lot in the Labour Party’s Manifesto for Work that echoes things unions have been calling for for a long time now. These proposals will be much needed music to the ears of hundreds of thousands of working people in Britain, struggling to make ends meet in precarious and insecure employment.