Tuesday 11 May 2021 / 10:30 PM Ed Miliband / Employment / Rachel Reeves

Government lets working people down by failing to deliver key promises to protect them in Queen’s Speech 

Labour will today call for ambition and a fair economic recovery as the party highlights the Government’s empty rhetoric, with key promises to protect workers left by the wayside for years and left out of the Queen’s Speech.

The Employment Bill, first promised in 2019 to “protect and enhance workers’ rights”, is a glaring omission from the Queen’s Speech having been promised more than 50 times by Ministers.

Opening the Queen’s Speech debate for Labour, the party’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves MP, will say that the only way for the Government to meet the challenges facing Britain is to build a fair economic recovery, shaped around protecting workers and creating the jobs of the future – not leaving workers behind by continuing to break basic pledges made repeatedly over the last two years.

Labour will outline how they want to work hand-in-hand with “good businesses” creating the “good jobs of the future”, helping British industries to thrive as we decarbonise our economy.

The party have also underlined how even though Boris Johnson admitted “using threats of firing and rehiring is unacceptable as a negotiating tactic”, the Government has taken no action whatsoever to outlaw it.

The party are today revealing a catalogue of broken promises and delays for British workers and jobs:

  • Proposals made by the Low Pay Commission protect people on zero-hour contracts and in insecure work, including one in four care workers and 1.3 million key workers.
  • Measures to strengthen enforcement via a ‘Single Enforcement Body’, following serious failings in the enforcement of protections during the pandemic.
  • Measures to strengthen redundancy protections during pregnancy and maternity leave.
  • Paid leave for unpaid carers and neonatal care.
  • Policies to support flexible working.
  • The Government has failed to implement most of the recommendations of the Taylor Review, published in 2017, despite the Government promising to act in its response in 2018.
  • The Government has failed to tackle the Employment Tribunal backlog, with almost half a million outstanding claims.

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, will say:

“To meet the challenges facing us as a country the Government must plan for the future.

“Our economic foundations were not strong enough going into the pandemic and as we thankfully emerge from it, people deserve something better than before.

“We need a transformation of our economy, so all workers have not only the skills they need, but fair pay for a fair day’s work, and greater security and opportunities for the future.

“That’s got to be a major test of this Queen’s Speech and one the Government looks set to fail.

“Labour would deliver a fair recovery, by valuing those who have kept our country moving, helping British industries to thrive and by creating good quality jobs in every community as we decarbonise our economy.”

Shadow Business Secretary, Ed Miliband, said: 

“The Government claims to be serious about tackling insecurity at work. But this legislative programme fails the most basic test of introducing an Employment Bill to improve workers’ rights and tackle the appalling practice of fire and re-hire.

“Once again we see the yawning chasm between government rhetoric which says that the epidemic of fire and re-hire is unacceptable and their deeds which is to fail the workers of this country.

“The key workers in our country have often been paid the least and had the least security. But rather than learn the lessons of this crisis and answer the call to bring something better, the Government is letting down workers and failing to act to protect them.

“Labour would strengthen employment protections including outlawing fire and re-hire, tackling exploitation in the gig economy, increasing the living wage, and transform our unequal, insecure economy. Only Labour will deliver the more secure, fairer economy our country needs.”