THE LABOUR party has launched a “new deal” for workers that it claims will see a fundamental change to the economy.
The party, which has suffered in recent years from a drop in support, is aiming its message at those who have switched allegiance to the Conservatives in recent years but who would have been previously traditional Labour voters.
The party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner launched the plan this morning at a social enterprise in London, setting out the measures for the UK after the pandemic where she said quality jobs would pay a “proper wage” and be a source of “pride, security and dignity” for ordinary people.
Ms Rayner said the country had now reached a “fork in the road” with the pandemic, and added that Labour’s new deal for workers was “the minimum” they could expect after working through the crisis.
She said: “Today the new deal is about – we are at a fork in the road as we come out of this pandemic – is that people in Britain shouldn’t have to go to work and really struggle to feed their families and support themselves in very low-paid insecure work.
“Today is about making sure that everybody gets rights from day one in employment, can have the right to flexible working, not just for the employer but for the employees as well who have done so much adapting and working from home in this period, and making sure that everybody has at least a minimum of £10 an hour, a real living wage.
“I think that will really boost our economy but also give people some security and respect in work. We think that is the absolute minimum that people should expect.”
She added the day one employment rights could include getting rid of probationary periods, adding there were “other ways” employers could deal with staff who were not “up to the job”.
Over the summer, the party’s front bench MPs will set out the five principles that its new deal for work is based on: security at work, quality jobs, a fairer economy, opportunity for all and work that pays.
It includes pledges for a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour, a “fair and level playing field” on tax between multinationals and local businesses and to improve workers’ rights while strengthening trade unions.
Sir Keir and Ms Rayner’s appearance together at the launch would have been an opportunity to put on a united front after signs of a rift and rumours of a possible leadership challenge, however Mr Starmer was unable to attend as one of his children tested positive for coronavirus.
During the event, Ms Rayner said her party would never endorse “fire and rehire” as she was discussing how Labour would adapt to its reduced financial situation.
She said: “Labour will not and will never support or endorse or take fire and rehire as an acceptable process. We are in the devastating circumstances where we have lost general elections and we have lost resources as a result of that, and our organisation has to change.
“At the moment we are asking people to take voluntary redundancy and change the way we do our work like any organisation goes through those times.”
She added: “It is very worrying for our staff who are going through that process. But we want to make sure that the Labour Party is in a very lean, fit position to go forward to win the next general election.
“We have got to be honest about the change that needs to happen. We can’t go through the defeats we have gone through succession after succession and not make any changes.”
Conservative Party co-chair Amanda Milling said: “It was this Conservative government that introduced an unprecedented furlough scheme, paying the wages of 10 million workers and saving jobs through the pandemic.
“We’ve increased the National Living Wage, giving 2 million workers a pay rise as well as taking millions of the lowest paid out of paying income tax.”