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Open letter in support of the Labour Party's labour law reforms

If you are interested in signing the below letter  please let me know by return email by 12 pm on Thursday Dr. Manoj Dias-Abey, Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol

Britain’s labour laws are in desperate need of reform. Working people are increasingly engaged in work that pays poorly, is insecure, and contains few avenues of redress if they are treated unfairly by their employers. In-work poverty is at a record high. In the large majority of families in poverty (60%) there is at least one person in work. The current government boasts about record low unemployment figures whilst at the same time it fails to protect workers from poverty pay and insecurity.

Evidence shows that collective bargaining helps to improve productivity and secure stable and well-paying jobs. In 1979, over 80% of UK workers were covered by collective agreements, but today that figure is less than 20%. The decline in collective bargaining was hastened by waves of anti-union legislation that began in the 1980s.  Today, British trade union laws are some of the most restrictive in the Western world.

The Labour Party’s 2019 manifesto proposes significant labour law reform, explaining: “[w]ork should provide a decent life for all, guaranteeing not just dignity and respect in the workplace, but also the income and leisure time to allow for a fulfilling life outside it.” We believe that this vision is backed up by a credible plan of action.

Labour will support the introduction of sectoral collective bargaining to set minimum terms and conditions covering all workers in UK sectors. Enterprise-based collective bargaining will be boosted so that employers and workers can negotiate agreements suited to the needs of their workplace. Labour will introduce a real “living wage” and require employers to replace zero-hour contracts with minimum hours contracts based on a new right to regular hours. It will ensure the full range of employment protections are available to all workers from day one of employment and it will create a properly resourced government agency to proactively enforce these rights. Race and gender pay equality will be achieved by making the state responsible for enforcing equal pay legislation and by requiring employers to publicly report on pay disparities for BAME workers.

Labour will also introduce several important corporate governance reforms for large businesses, such as worker representatives on boards and the creation of “inclusive ownership funds”, which have the potential to radically democratise the economy.

Collectively, we have spent many decades studying labour law and industrial relations in the United Kingdom. We believe that the Labour Party is the only party with a transformative plan to create jobs that offer security, fair pay and dignity at work as well as an economy that works for the many. 

Yours sincerely,

3rd December 2019