Friday, September 02, 2016

What should Labour's policies be on workers' rights?

I like the characteristic balance and rigour of Gregor Gall’s assessment of the promises of the rival candidates for the Labour leadership (both Jeremy Corbyn and that other guy they have put up to lose to him) in relation to the workplace.
The observation that neither contender is really building upon the existing, unsatisfactory, arrangements for statutory union recognition rings true, and begs the question of how we should use the opportunity to respond to Labour’s “Workplace 2020” consultation to try to improve upon this state of affairs.
When Corbyn says “We will give people stronger employment rights from day one in a job, end exploitative zero hours contracts and create new sectoral collective bargaining rights, including mandatory collective bargaining for companies with 250 or more employees. We will create new employment and trade union rights to bring security to the workplace and win better pay and conditions for everyone. We will strengthen working people’s representation at work and the ability of trade unions to organise so that working people have a real voice at work” that’s all very good.
However, as Gall points out, the bar is set too high by restricting mandatory collective bargaining to firms with 250 or more employees, a limit which would invite the breaking up of companies into multiple smaller entities. What would mandatory collective bargaining look like anyway? How would it work in a multi-union environment? How would “sectoral collective bargaining rights” apply? (What is a “sector” anyway in the twenty first century?)
I think union activists are the people who need to find answer these questions.

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