Labour is not watering down its commitment to strengthen workers’ rights, Angela Rayner has said.
The Financial Times newspaper reported that Labour has scaled back its commitments to bolster workers’ rights in an attempt to woo corporate backers, including by diluting its pledge to strengthen gig worker rights.
But the Labour deputy leader said her party was “far from watering it down” and would continue to offer a range of new protections for employees.
Her colleague Stephen Morgan, a shadow education minister, meanwhile suggested Labour would be both “pro-worker and pro-business” if elected, when asked about the claims.
Labour’s New Deal for Working People will be the biggest levelling-up of workers’ rights in decades – providing security, treating workers fairly, and paying a decent wage. 🧵1/8https://t.co/GP5rTGKPVZ
— Angela Rayner 🌹 (@AngelaRayner) August 18, 2023
In a post on Twitter, now known as X, Labour deputy leader Ms Rayner said: “Labour’s New Deal for Working People will be the biggest levelling-up of workers’ rights in decades – providing security, treating workers fairly, and paying a decent wage.”
The Labour frontbencher said this would include banning zero hours contracts, making flexible working a day one right, and reviewing parental leave rights.
She added: “I’m proud that we developed our comprehensive New Deal together with Labour’s affiliated unions. Far from watering it down, we will now set out in detail how we will implement it and tackle the Tories’ scaremongering.”
In 2021, Labour set out a series of proposals to reform employment law in a workers’ rights charter.
This included plans to create a single employment status for all workers except the self-employed, aimed at eliminating bad employment practices in the gig economy.
The FT suggested the wording of the pledge had been diluted following Labour’s national policy forum last month, with the party planning to consult on the reforms before introducing them.
Ms Rayner, speaking to The Political Party podcast with comedian Matt Forde during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on Friday, said the newspaper’s story was “not true”.
But she did say Labour was having to “adapt” some of its policies to ensure there were no “unintended consequences”.
She said the party was “going into the meat and the detail of what those headline policy announcements were” so a future Labour government could enact them “from day one” with the Civil Service.
The senior Opposition figure said that included working with unions and businesses to consider how a ban on zero-hour contracts would work in practice.
Mr Morgan said the party would set out its full policy plans at its October conference.
Asked about the FT report by Sky News, Mr Morgan he could not comment, but said: “Obviously we will set out more detail in our manifesto, but the Labour Party can be pro-worker and pro-business.
“We have got a really good relationship with business now, we can be trusted to run our economy and to run our country, and we have got a set of policies which are pro-worker too.”
He added: “I can’t comment on a policy document that has not been published yet. It will be at our party conference in October, and that is when we will see a lot more detail.
“But, as I said, our party is committed to improving workers’ rights as well as supporting businesses too.”
Labour has previously managed expectations about its promised £28 billion green investment funding, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves claiming the party would “ramp up” its environmental spending over the course of its term in office.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, has drawn criticism for suggesting that removing the two-child benefit cap would not be a priority for his party in government.
Asked about the change in Labour’s offering to the electorate, Mr Morgan told Sky: “We have got to recognise that the Government have crashed the economy.
“Thirteen years of economic failure are going to have real consequences for an incoming Labour government. We are going to have really tough political decisions to make, but Keir has set out a mission that will transform our country for the better and that is our priority.”