Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and Labour leader Keir Starmer look up to the big business 

Another leak from the Labour Party to the bosses’ Financial Times (FT) newspaper confirms Keir Starmer’s disgusting retreats over workers’ rights.

A leak on May Day had already signalled the pro-corporate direction. Now a further one says the party will have a “full and comprehensive” consultation with business on the “New Deal for Working People”. 

In 2021 Labour pledged policies including a ban on zero hour contracts and a “right to switch off”, bundled in an “employment rights bill” it would introduce within 100 days of taking office. The package—meagre at its best—also vowed to give workers full employment protections on “day one” of a new job. 

Those three pledges have gone according to the FT this week. Labour will now commit to “starting the legislative process” within 100 days if it wins the next general election, saying it will only “publish draft legislative proposals” in that timeframe. 

Full rights from day one in a job will be subject to probationary periods of unspecified length, the ban on zero-hours contracts will apply only to “exploitative” contracts, and collective bargaining—unions given the right to negotiate terms across a whole industry—will apply only to social care. 

On its pledge to ban fire and rehire the party now says, “It is important that businesses can restructure to remain viable and preserve their workforce when there is genuinely no alternative.”

That’s music to the ears of every brutal boss. A Labour promise to give workers the “right to switch off”, so that employers cannot contact them outside working hours, has also been changed in the document. 

The text now promises a more ad hoc approach, based on models in Ireland and Belgium, giving “workers and employers the opportunity to have constructive conversations and work together on bespoke workplace policies or contractual terms that benefit both parties”.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, said the document represented “a row back on a row back”. “It is totally unrecognisable from the original proposals produced with the unions,” she said. “Workers will see through this and mark the retreat after retreat as a betrayal.” 

But other union leaders are going along with the treachery. One, who the FT describes as a “moderate union official”, said it was reasonable for Labour and the unions to negotiate a final “transformational” New Deal. 

Workers and their unions should not “give Labour a chance”. They should organise for a fightback now. And they should launch the campaign even as the street sweepers are clearing the streamers outside Downing Street and Starmer is waving from the steps.


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