UK Politics

Corbyn promises 'biggest' boost to workers' rights

Jeremy Corbyn

A Labour government would introduce the biggest extension of workers' rights ever seen in the UK, including a new department to protect workers' rights, party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

He told the TUC conference the aim was to deliver better wages, greater security and give workers more of a say in how their workplaces are run.

He pledged to stand up for the majority who do the work and pay their taxes.

"Not the few at the top who hoard the wealth and dodge their taxes," he said.

Addressing the conference in Brighton, Mr Corbyn said Labour would appoint a secretary of state for employment rights and a workers' protection agency to enforce rights, standards and protections so that every job was a "good job".

"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," he said.

He added that workers would be offered security, dignity, fair pay and rights in the workplace under minimum standards set through collective bargaining.

The Labour leader also repeated an earlier party pledge to repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act, which made strikes illegal unless at least half of eligible union members take part in the ballot.

Other new policies would include:

  • Introducing a statutory real living wage of £10 an hour by 2020 for all workers aged 16 or over. (The government's "National Living Wage" for 25-year-olds and over, is currently £8.21 an hour)
  • Banning unpaid internships
  • Ending zero-hour contracts by requiring employers to give all workers a contract reflecting their fixed and regular hours
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Mr Corbyn was greeted by delegates at the TUC conference

Mr Corbyn told delegates: "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 [Boris] Johnson represents."

Mr Corbyn's speech also brought clarification on Labour's position on Brexit, with him promising a further referendum with a "credible Leave option" if Labour wins the next general election.

He told the conference an general election was coming, but Labour would not allow Mr Johnson to dictate the terms.

"And in that election we will commit to a public vote with a credible option to leave and the option to remain."

But some senior party figures, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, have said they will campaign to stay in the EU under any circumstances - even if Labour negotiates its own deal.

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