#041 A “New Deal” For Workers

Will Labour Keep Its Policy Promises To The Trade Unions and To Working People?

3 min readMay 22, 2024

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In 2020, during Keir Starmer’s campaign to become leader of the Labour Party he made 10 pledges which were made up of 21 definitive policies he pledged to pursue in government. By mid 2024, the vast majority of these policy proposals had been discarded and even the website containing them was updated, removing these pledges from record…

https://progressiveprimers.medium.com/043-stepping-back-from-core-principles-starmers-2024-manifesto-785587e2c2ec

Two of the policy pledges that have nevertheless survived however are,

  • “Tackle insecure work and low pay”
  • “Maintain our collective link with the unions”

Keeping these two pledges indicated that the Labour leadership are not as willing to junk and discard policies relating to trade unions and workers, at least for now, as they have been to junk & discard other policy pledges Starmer made (to win the Labour Party leadership).

There appears to be two primary reasons for this, the first being the Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner MP (who has her own mandate from the Labour membership separate from Starmer) seems genuinely eager to see pro worker policies enacted and has a long history working with the Trade Union movement.

Angela Rayner Speaking at the TUC Conference (2023)

The second is the direct pressure the elected Trade Union General Secretaries can put on the Labour party leadership for a future Labour government to enact pro union and pro worker policies.

We saw this in May 2024 when Labour and the affiliated trade unions reached an agreement won its workers’ rights proposals, their “new deal for working people”, after the General Secretaries demanded the party commit to no further weakening of the original plans to appease and win favour from employers and business generally.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/article/2024/may/14/labour-and-unions-reach-agreement-on-workers-rights-proposals

Labour’s “new deal for working people” then is worth exploring.

What are the main policy proposals?
And how likely are they to come to pass from a Labour leadership that has already discarded or U-turned on so many other policies?
https://www.politico.eu/article/keir-starmer-labour-party-uk-election-u-turns/

Six definitive policies the new deal promises to turn into law are as follows,

  • Create a Single Status of Worker - removing the qualifying period for basic rights and protections at work such as unfair dismissal and clamping down on bogus self employment.
  • End to Fire and Rehire
  • End to Zero Hours Contracts
  • Right to Switch Off Outside Working Hours
  • Strengthen & Extend Sick Pay and Parental Leave
  • Repeal 2016 Anti Trade Union Legislation

The Labour Party claims,

“Our new deal for working people will be a core part of our offer to the country”

and it is so confident these policies will happen it has even pledged to start to enact them in the first 100 days of a Labour government, but given we know Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, will say or pledge almost anything to win votes, to later happily discard said pledges when he thinks it’s politically convenient to do so, will the pressure from the affiliated unions and the Deputy Leader be enough to see these pro worker policies survive into law?

Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite The Union, Speaks to Journalists Following a Meeting With The Labour Party Leadership and Other Trade Union Leaders on the New Deal For Working People (May 2024)

Watch This Space…

UPDATE 1 - May 25th 2024:

Labour release a new rebranded outline of their policies in this area named “Labour’s Plan To Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal For Working People”
https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/LABOURS-PLAN-TO-MAKE-WORK-PAY.pdf

Unite the Union responds - https://www.unitetheunion.org/news-events/news/2024/may/unite-statement-on-further-changes-to-labour-s-new-deal-for-working-people

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