Keir Starmer speaking at hustings in 2020, when he claimed to support Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto. Photo: Rwendland/CC
Keir Starmer speaking at hustings in 2020, when he claimed to support Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto. Photo: Rwendland/CC

Dan Smart, Branch secretary Unison South Gloucestershire (personal capacity)

Following the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum, Keir Starmer has copped out of Labour’s promises to strengthen workers’ rights, once again appealing to big business bosses.

Up to now, the Labour Party had pledged to do away with bogus self-employment, like in the so-called gig economy, and give workers full rights from day one on the job. This was one of the last remnants of the Corbyn era, calling for a ‘New Deal for Working People’ to end the poverty and precarity facing at least 3.7 million UK workers.

In a further attempt to assure the establishment they are a safe pair of hands, Angela Rayner announced that Labour would instead be undertaking a ‘consultation period’ once in power to create a ‘simpler framework’. This won’t provide any assurance however to Amazon delivery drivers having to urinate in bottles because they aren’t entitled to a break, or Royal Mail posties threatened with a race-to-the-bottom in competition with other exploitative delivery firms.

Before the climb down at the recent National Policy Forum, Labour had committed to implementing a single status of employment. This would have brought those in the gig economy, and other ‘casualised’ workers in areas like retail, in line with legally termed ’employees’ with stronger rights. It also meant providing these rights from the date you start the job, such as the ability to claim unfair dismissal, a guaranteed wage, and parental leave. Shamefully, employees currently only have these protections after two years continuous employment. Meaning that, up to this time, we can be fired for no reason at all!

Having legal security and rights at work for all can back up trade unions organising and fighting to improve our livelihoods. The Labour Party was founded on these basic collective principles but criminally, Starmer, like Blair before him, is trying to show the Labour Party will reliably act in the bosses’ interests.

Unite the Union has rightfully stood up and called Labour out on this, refusing to endorse Labour’s policy programme. Socialist Party members fight for unions to be able to back candidates that will stand up for working-class people. The Socialist Party is campaigning for a workers’ list of candidates in the next election, made up of trade unionists, campaigners, socialists, and others, that will actually fight for workers’ rights.