Jeremy Corbyn today alarmed business leaders by promising the biggest boost to trade union powers since the Seventies.
Addressing the Trades Union Congress in Brighton, Labour’s leader announced plans to scrap anti-strike laws, hand unions more say over pay and conditions, plus set up a new agency to inspect and prosecute firms accused of undermining workplace standards.
“The next Labour government will bring about the biggest extension of rights for workers that our country has ever seen,” he declared.
In language redolent of class warfare, Mr Corbyn promised to lead a “real battle against the born-to-rule establishment that [Boris] Johnson represents”.
Key announcements included:
- Pay levels to be pushed up by the introduction of sectoral collective bargaining in which minimum terms would be negotiated for entire sectors of the economy by “councils of workers and employer representatives”.
- A new ministry for employment rights headed by a Cabinet minister to pass new pro-union laws and “a huge roll-out of individual and collective rights at work”.
- Tougher penalties for employers who breach legal rights or defy court orders, with a workers’ protection agency being set up and empowered to investigate workplaces and bring prosecutions and civil proceedings against bosses.
- Union powers strengthened with laws to enforce recognition and a “right of entry to workplaces” and curbs on the ability of firms to sack union reps.
- Abolishing the Trade Union Act of 2016 which clamped down on strikes by requiring a 50 per cent turnout in industrial ballots and a threshold of 40 per cent support among every person eligible to vote.
The union wishlist comes as Labour is forced to rely more heavily on trade union donations to raise money to fight the looming general election, such as £488,000 from the Unite union in the second quarter of 2019.
Mr Corbyn also confirmed plans to ban unpaid internships, raise agency staff pay to the same as full-timers, extend rights to people currently counted as self-employed and bring in a £10-an-hour living wage.