Wednesday 6 March 2019 / 9:35 AM Rebecca Long Bailey / Workers' Rights

Government’s attempt to bribe workers over rights – Long Bailey

Responding to the government’s announcement on workers’ rights, Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said:

“Hot on the heels of their pathetic bribe for left behind towns, here comes the government’s attempt to bribe workers to back their botched Brexit deal.

“Instead of automatically keeping up with European workers’ rights, and using that as a floor as Labour has pledged, the government is admitting that British workers could see their rights fall behind those of colleagues in Europe. This is utterly unacceptable and workers and trade unions will not be fooled.

“From maternity and paternity leave, to the right to holiday, and vital health and safety protections, workers’ rights have been hard won, often against Tory opposition. The slash and burn of rights and protections could become reality if the hard right of the Tory Party is allowed to exert pressure on this weak Prime Minister.”


Notes to editors:

  • The PM’s deal risks the UK falling behind the EU in terms of rights and protections as there would be no legal requirement for the UK to enact any new EU rights legislation.
  • Working people are worse off under the Tories. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) annual earnings are more than 3% lower than in 2008 and the TUC say that nearly four million people are now in insecure work.
  • Trade unions are essential in tackling insecure work and low pay. Yet the Tories introduced the Trade Union Act 2016, the biggest restrictions in 30 years on trade unions and those workers who benefit from them.
  • In 2013 the Tory-led government introduced employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 which were a significant barrier for workers seeking justice and which were ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in 2017.
  • 1.2 million public sector workers earn below the real Living Wage according to the Living Wage Foundation.
  • According to the Office for National Statistics, the average income of the poorest fifth of the population after inflation contracted by 1.6% in the last financial year ending in 2018, while the average income of the richest fifth rose by 4.7%.
  • Workers have paid a heavy price for years of labour market deregulation and anti-union policies. Anti-trade union legislation has contributed to the UK experiencing one of the sharpest declines in union density in Europe since the 1980s – density in the UK fell from a high of 49.9% in 1981 to a record low of 23.2% in 2017.
  • According to the ONS there are nearly a million people on zero-hours contacts: