Angela Rayner has pledged a future Labour government will introduce new laws to boost workers rights within 100 days of taking power.
Labour’s deputy leader promised an end to zero-hours contracts, protections against unfair dismissal, an end of fire-and-rehire practices, more flexible working and repealing the Conservative government’s “vicious” anti-trade union laws.
The New Deal for Working People is a “cast iron commitment” to improve workers’ rights, Rayner told TUC delegates at their Liverpool conference.
Rayner called for unity among unions, a message seen as a bid to disarm criticism of Labour’s shift to the right under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.
“I come here with one message today, that the next Labour government will build an economy that works for working people, with a new deal for working people.
“Labour will start by bringing forward an employment rights bill to legislate for this within the first 100 days of entering office. That’s a cast iron commitment,” said Rayner.
Speaking directly to conference, Rayner said the “vicious” anti-union legislation, such introducing minimum service levels to cover strikes, is a “spiteful and bitter attack that threatens nurses with the sack”.
“Strike is a last resort but a fundamental freedom that must be respected.”
Rayner said the New Deal for Workers is also “good for the economy and good for businesses” and that updating trade unions will “make them fit for the 21st century”.
Other reforms under the New Deal will include banning blacklists of workers and union reps, raising the living wage and giving unions more legal rights to access workplaces.
Unions will also have a greater role in collective bargaining over pay and conditions said Rayner, adding a government working more closely with both unions and businesses makes financial sense.
“A healthier, happier and motivated workforce is good for the bottom line.”
The Conservative party seized on Rayner’s speech as evidence the “mask has slipped” with Greg hands, the Tory party chairman, declaring that despite Starmer’s “shot-term promises to be pro-business, his deputy leader is committing to Labour’s union paymasters that they will have more control over Britain’s economy”.
Hands took to social media to post: “Reversing anti-strike laws will mean more strikes, damaging the economy & disrupting the lives of hardworking people. Only the Conservatives are delivering the protections we need to stop Labour-backed union leaders from trying to shut down the country
The speech got a far better reception in the conference hall. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said the New Deal will be transformative and the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation compared to “the Tories’ dire record on workers’ rights and pay”.
Nowak said the Conservatives had “presided over an explosion in insecure work and the longest pay squeeze in modern history. And they are now launching a full-scale attack on the right to strike.”