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Labour commits to workers' rights plan after union talks

UNION leaders secured a pledge from Labour leader Keir Starmer today that the party would implement in full the workers’ rights reforms agreed by its national policy forum last year.

According to a joint statement issued following a meeting at party headquarters between Sir Keir and leaders of Labour’s union affiliates: “Labour and the affiliated unions had a constructive discussion today.

“Together, we have reiterated Labour’s full commitment to the new deal for working people, as agreed in July.

“We will continue to work together at pace on how a Labour government would implement it in legislation,” it concluded, a formulation that still leaves some wiggle room.

Sources claimed that the party leadership had been forced to recommit to the plans following strong and united pressure from the unions.

It is understood that there will be a follow-up meeting in about three weeks to discuss the key issue of scheduling the legislation to give effect to the package.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who called today’s meeting a ”red line” one, said afterwards that Labour “did listen,” but that unions will “keep pushing” until “the words are on the page.”

She stressed that the aim remained to get legislation within the first 100 days of a Labour government. 

The party leadership had “agreed to go back to the new deal for working people document, use that as the principal guide and move towards legislation.”

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said the meeting was positive and that the full package “will be implemented as we agreed previously. 

“We’ve got the position we all want. It will be a flagship policy for the general election,” he said.

The unions demanded the meeting to seek clarity over the timing and content of action to tackle abuses after Labour wins power, following persistent rumours of further concessions being made to business.

Among the concerns raised with Sir Keir were proposed loopholes allowing employers to continue to use zero-hours contracts with workers’ agreement and delays to allow consultation with business on other measures.

This comes on top of earlier watering-down of the plans. For example, establishing sectoral collective bargaining is now to be confined to social care.

Concerns were exacerbated by the warm welcome Labour’s leadership offered to defecting Tory rightwinger Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal.

There is fairly lengthy charge sheet of the new Labour MP’s unacceptable views, including her backing for those anti-union laws.

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