Labour’s ‘rebrand’ of workers’ rights plan criticised

Sir Keir Starmer has defended Labour’s decision to rebrand its package of workers’ rights after a union said the plans had “more holes than Swiss cheese”.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, accused the party of watering down its policies after it rebranded “Labour’s new deal for working people” as “Labour’s plan to make work pay”.

Reports suggest it would go through a formal consultation process with businesses, potentially delaying or toning down pledges on areas like zero-hours contracts, parental leave and sick pay.

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Ms Graham said: “The again revised New Deal for Working People has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. The number of caveats and get-outs means it is in danger of becoming a bad bosses’ charter.

“Working people expect Labour to be their voice. They need to know that Labour will not back down to corporate profiteers determined to maintain the status quo of colossal profits at the expense of everyone else.

“The country desperately needs a Labour government, but the party must show it will stick to its guns on improving workers’ rights.”

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham, joins ambulance workers on the picket line outside ambulance headquarters in Coventry
Sharon Graham urged Labour to ‘stick to its guns on improving workers’ rights’. Pic: PA

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Asked about the comments during a visit to Staffordshire, Sir Keir said: “We have come to an agreement with the unions.

“At the heart of this is something really important to me and that’s dignity and respect at work and I think everybody should be treated with dignity and respect at work.

“There’s another really important angle on this, which is the number one mission for an incoming government is to grow the economy to make sure our economy ensures living standards are improved everywhere across the country.

“I don’t think you can do that if you don’t treat your workforce properly.”

Elements of Labour’s plan include a “right to switch off”, a proposed ban on zero hours contracts and stronger employment rights from day one of a new job.

Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail in Stafford. Pic: Reuters
Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail in Stafford. Pic: Reuters

The party has also said it wants to empower adult social care professionals and trade unions that represent them to negotiate a sector-wide agreement for pay, terms and conditions.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour’s new deal for working people is our plan to make work pay. It’s how we’ll boost wages, deliver secure work and support working people to thrive – delivering a genuine living wage, banning exploitative zero hours contracts, and ending fire and rehire.

“The new deal is a core part of our mission to grow Britain’s economy and raise living standards in every part of the country. Labour will make Britain work for working people.”

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