Friday 24 April 2020 / 4:49 PM Andy McDonald / Ed Miliband / Workers' Rights

No return to business as usual on workers’ rights after coronavirus crisis

There must be no return to “business as usual” on workers’ rights when we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, Labour says.

Andy McDonald, Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Secretary, and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Ed Miliband, are calling on the government to bring businesses and trade unions together to improve working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Writing to Business Secretary Alok Sharma, they also back the TUC’s call to establish a new National Council for Reconstruction and Recovery to put workers and our communities at the heart of a national effort to build a better society in future.

The letter says:

“The current crisis has brought into sharp focus how much we rely on those workers who, too often, have been underpaid and undervalued. As we move through this period and respond to the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 we cannot have a return to business as usual.

“There is a real sense of the British people and our major industrial and economic representative bodies wanting to pull together, as we not only tackle the immediate health, social and economic challenges, but also as we begin to plan for the recovery phase and transition back to a fully functioning economy.”

Ends

Full text of the letter:

In managing the COVID-19 crisis it is imperative that workers’ rights are not infringed and their health and safety is not put at risk. Trades unions have a critical role to play here.

The current crisis has brought into sharp focus how much we rely on those workers who, too often, have been underpaid and undervalued. As we move through this period and respond to the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 we cannot have a return to business as usual.

There is a real sense of the British people and our major industrial and economic representative bodies wanting to pull together, as we not only tackle the immediate health, social and economic challenges, but also as we begin to plan for the recovery phase and transition back to a fully functioning economy.

As we emerge from lockdown in the coming weeks and months, whatever the precise strategy, these issues will become ever more important. When businesses re-open employees have a right to be and to feel safe. We are not confident that we yet have in place sufficient arrangements to ensure this.

Business, the Trades Unions and agencies have demonstrated their clear commitment to working together in facing these challenges. That spirit is echoed in the joint call of the Health and Safety Executive, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Trades Union Congress (TUC) in their unprecedented joint statement for employers to ensure safe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak.

We wholly support this initiative and call on the government now to involve itself by setting up tripartite engagement forums including the Trade Unions and businesses to ensure the necessary provisions particular to the various types of workplaces across our economy are set in place.

Furthermore, we urge the government to heed the call of the General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, to establish an economy-wide National Council for Reconstruction and Recovery that will cement the voice of working people at the very heart of our national effort to build a better society as we emerge from this crisis.

Yours sincerely,

Andy McDonald
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections

Ed Miliband
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy