Unions welcome Labour’s Workplace 2020 initiative
The scheme was launched near Stroud yesterday by leader Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke to a crowd of supporters and employees of Britwind, a windmill manufacturing company owned by Ecotricity.
He was joined by Labour MPs Angela Eagle, Ian Lavery and Jo Stevens.
Jeremy Corbyn said: “Workplace 2020 will be at the heart of how Labour is going to develop our alternative for the workforce of the 21st century.
“We want it to be the biggest discussion of what the world of work should look like in 2020 and thereafter.
“In Britain we have zero hours contracts, insecurity and wage undercutting. It’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy, it leads to desperate levels on stress and it plays into the mental health crisis. What people need is security in the workforce and security of their living.
“Instead of a race to the bottom in jobs, pay and workplace rights, we will be shaping a different approach: based on a full-employment, a high-skilled workforce, with decent pay, rights for self-employed and the employed, and a voice at work through collective bargaining.
“That’s the basis for a new business settlement in the economy of the future. One that benefits both workers and employers – and breaks with the low-pay, low-investment, low-productivity record of this country.
“Workplace 2020 is part of our policy making process which will give us an understanding of what popular feelings are.
“But above all its unlocking the potential in everybody to think of creative ideas of how we can do things differently and better – how those at work want rights, want a voice, want democracy but above all, want to be able to contribute so that their skills are fully utilised.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This is a fantastic move by the Labour party and is exactly the sort of initiative we expect from the real party of working people.
“It sits in sharp contrast to a Conservative government that has always regarded workers and their unions as the `enemy within’, typified by their appalling Trade Union Act.
“Crucially, this shows a Labour party willing to ask us all to consider what sort of country we want to be. One of low-wages, low skills and ever growing inequality, or one where people’s talents are harnessed and respected, and prosperity is shared by us all?
“I urge people to get involved, no matter what stage of your working life you may be at, so that Labour can build a programme that will deliver decent employment for tomorrow’s workforce.”
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It was great to see Jeremy Corbyn and senior Labour figures making the case for trade unions and the rights of working people this morning.
“Today Jeremy launched the Workplace 2020 consultation, and I look forward to UNISON playing a major role in the debate about the future of work in this country.
“It’s fair to say that there have been times in the party’s past when party leaders were shy about making such arguments. But in Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party is led by a former NUPE official – and UNISON member – who understands the value of unions not just for those they represent, but in building better workplaces too.
“At times it has felt like the debate about the world of work has been stuck in the past – both on celebrating our achievements and defending them against a rapacious Tory government.
“But the labour movement doesn’t deliver for people by standing still. Jeremy has rightly identified the issues that we’re fighting to eliminate each and every day – massive wage disparity between those at the top and the bottom, poverty pay and insecure work. But he’s also looked ahead to the kind of country we need to build together: full-employment, high-skilled workforce, with decent pay, rights for employed and self-employed, and a voice at work through collective bargaining.
“That’s the sort of agenda we can get behind – I look forward to UNISON members being part of that conversation.