Scottish Labour’s commitments to workers is the far reaching and comprehensive set of proposals that is needed to tackle the crisis facing us. The Tories, and SNP boast of record numbers in work but as Richard Leonard points out “it’s not like there is a blight of unemployment which is fuelling poverty – there is a blight of low pay fuelling poverty and we need to tackle that as a matter of priority”.
Some measures will have immediate impacts – like a £10 per hour minimum wage, a ban on zero hours contracts, pay for cancelled shifts and higher pay for extended hours, equal employment rights from day one, an ending of bogus self employment, improved maternity and paternity rights and making resources available for a 5% increase public sector employment.
Whilst these are welcome moves and will improve millions of lives. There are other more structural measures which will give workers a voice – collectively and effectively. Labour will repeal anti-trade union legislation, including the Conservatives’ undemocratic Trade Union Act 2016, and create new rights and freedoms for trade union unions to help them win a better deal for working people.
There will be a Ministry of Employment Rights at the heart of government. Amongst other things this will oversee a rolling out sectoral collective bargaining of standards in each sector of the economy.
This means in each industry employers and trade unions will be brought together to negotiate minimum standards. This will include a whole range of issues; pay scales, hours, holidays, promotion, training, health and well-being and equality policies. No longer will terms be dictated on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. Instead there will be ‘a rate for the job’.
Labour will require employers to devise and implement plans to eradicate the gender pay gap and pay inequalities underpinned by race and/or disability – or face fines. After 50 years of equal pay legislation, Labour will make the law work to ensure equal pay for work of equal value. This will include requiring all employers with over 250 employees to obtain government certification on gender equality or face further auditing and fines. Women will no longer be penalised by secretive pay and bonus setting. By the end of 2020, that threshold will be lowered to workplaces with 50 employees.
This is the strongest set of proposals to empower people at work ever proposed. No other party is contemplating anything like this because no other party has trade unions at it core. For those seeking better, fairer working lives only a Labour vote can deliver.