Posts Tagged ‘Labour’

‘Single market variant’ only way to avoid hard border in Northern Ireland, says Keir Starmer – video

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said Labour is prepared to accept the ‘easy movement’ of workers between the EU and Britain in order to secure the benefits of both the single market and customs union after Brexit. Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Starmer added that Labour’s approach was ‘the only way to achieve no hard border in Northern Ireland’

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Swiss-style laws could give British workers the Brexit they voted for | John Mann

Northern votes for Brexit were in protest at cheaper foreign labour undercutting pay and conditions. Recent legislation from Switzerland shows the way forward

In June 2016, I joined a majority of the British people and 70% of my constituents in voting to leave the European Union. In Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, low-skilled migration from the European Union has undermined working conditions and strained our public services.

Related: The more they say they are all happy the more sceptical you should be | Andrew Rawnsley

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Labour backs ‘easy movement’ of EU workers after Brexit, says Keir Starmer

Shadow Brexit secretary tells Andrew Marr position would ensure UK kept full benefits of single market and customs union

Keir Starmer has said Labour is prepared to accept the “easy movement” of workers between the EU and Britain in order to secure the benefits of both the single market and customs union after Brexit.
The shadow Brexit secretary said his party’s ambitions for a close economic relationship with the EU also meant alignment of regulations and standards, and continued payments.
“We are very comfortable staying on a level playing field,” he said.
Starmer also said Theresa May was being unrealistic in her promises that secured an agreement on the divorce talks.

“You can’t sweep customs union and single market off the table on the one hand and also say you don’t want a hard border in Northern Ireland,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

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Labour MPs hope EU deal is signal for soft Brexit approach

Calling for an end to the ‘chaos and confusion’ that has dogged talks thus far, remainers in the party hope the breakthrough now leads to a softer exit

If official Labour reaction to the initial Brexit deal was cautiously welcoming, behind the scenes several MPs were already wondering whether the flexibility inherent in certain clauses might be the cue to push the party definitively towards seeking a soft Brexit.

The formal Labour policy, such as it exists, only calls for continued membership of the EU’s single market and customs union during a transitional deal, a stance reiterated on Friday by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer.

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UKIP Golden Opportunity

UKIP Golden Opportunity

Editor ~ This is a follow-up article to “Beer Tokens” by Flyer which can be read here on UkipDaily.

For those of us who voted to leave the EU, we live in troubling times. We are coming to realise that winning the EU Referendum was but a battle; the war is not over. Tony Blair is openly organising to reverse BREXIT. Remoaners are obsessively telling us at every opportunity how we were lied to during the referendum campaign and using this as an argument to think again. There are no shortage of organisations and institutions warning of the woes that will befall us if we leave.

But that is nothing compared to an even greater threat to the BREXIT we voted for; the incompetent, duplicitous and underhand actions of this Conservative Government implementing the mandate handed to them at their instigation by the electorate.

MPs have been demanding that the Government tell them what they are up to, else how can they fulfill their role in Parliament. Yet it is not Parliament but the people who voted to take back control, and how can the people know what control there is going to be when there is so much misinformation, fake news and lies coming from wherever you look. Hopefully, the truth is out there, somewhere.

All we can do is form the best judgement we can based on what seems to be the most reliable sources. And at the moment the judgement is gloomy, to say the least. Are we about to be betrayed by another Conservative Government?

But out of despair, I can offer hope for BREXIT supporters. And a possible golden opportunity for UKIP.

In the event the Government falls, for whatever reason, I think the outcome could be significantly different to what seems to be the consensus prediction; a Labour government.

A previous time the Labour Party fought a general election with a leader from the far-left (Michael Foot) Margaret Thatcher was returned with a whopping majority. But then the issue was not the EU, there was no significant split within the Conservatives and there was no UKIP.

This time THE issue will be the EU, the Conservatives are split and there is UKIP. Plus Labour is equally split with the rise of Momentum. But the most significant factor is not the state of the two main parties but the mood of the electorate.

I think the increase in the Labour vote at the last general election will prove to be a flash in the pan. Some of the youth vote will have had time to realise that the appeal was an illusion. Many “traditional” Labour voters will not support a Momentum dominated party, and while they will not vote Conservative they may well vote UKIP.

An equivalent argument can be made for those who voted Conservative at the last general election. At that time there was a widespread feeling that to ensure BREXIT was delivered it was necessary to vote Conservative. With every passing day that is proving to have been a big mistake. There is every prospect that previous UKIP voters will return to UKIP, and at least some “traditional” Conservative voters will switch to UKIP.

Given the Referendum result, the BREXIT mood in the Country and that there is only one political party that can be relied upon to deliver BREXIT, UKIP could have its best election result ever, and by a long way.

I just cannot see the Country to be so stupid as to elect a Labour government. Obviously, UKIP will not be forming the next government. But it seems to me that with votes falling away from both Labour and Conservative there will be a hung Parliament. In this case, UKIP could have enough MPs to influence a Conservative minority government, much as the DUP is doing now but even more so.

Further, with Momentum undermining the electoral prospects of some sitting Labour MPs they could abandon Labour as a no-hope prospect and stand for UKIP at the election; Labour voters have previously switched to UKIP so why not some MPs in the new circumstance in which they find themselves.

We all understand that UKIP’s electoral prospects are hampered by first-past-the-post; there is no way that is going to change in the near future, so we are just going to have to put all our energies into doing as well as possible with the system as it is.

The critical time is up to March 29th, 2019. Thereafter we can work on the best possible Manifesto for the general election following.

UKIP has a new Leader dedicated to the cause able to bring about sound and effective organisation. We have an ex-Leader, hailed as the most influential politician of modern times, still a Party Member and still pushing the cause at the front. Seems to me a Henry/Nigel duo complementing each other’s attributes at the head of UKIP (Nigel as, say, Chairman, or President or similar – NOT Leader) is a winning combination we can all get behind.

The opportunity is potentially there. If we concentrate on what matters now we can make it a Golden Opportunity.

The post UKIP Golden Opportunity appeared first on UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate.

Reforming modern employment: have the Conservatives done enough to be the party of workers?

Have the Conservatives fulfilled Theresa May’s pledge to become Britain’s ‘workers’ party’? Not as it currently stands, writes Tonia Novitz. She explains what the actual plight of British workers is, what steps have been taken by May’s government to address it, and why they fall short of what is needed.

Can the Tories can become ‘the workers’ party’? This was the latest ambition of Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP. Observing the decline in support from women and those under 30, he sought a rebranding to revitalize Conservative popularity. His pitch for a ‘workers’ charter’ might be equated with what is currently envisaged in the Taylor Review initiated by the government, but if so such a charter would be hollow and inadequate. Much more would need to be done.

Theresa May’s aspirations

As Home Secretary, Theresa May’s preoccupation lay with immigration offences, the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and criminal penalties for those implicated in slavery, forced labour and trafficking, sometimes confusing these objectives. As Prime Minister at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016, she evinced less sympathy for the exceptional victim and more for the ‘ordinary working class’, stating that ‘we are the party of workers’, while restating her concerns about the effects on the labour market of immigration.

Similarly, chapter 5 of a recent White Paper on ‘controlling immigration’ asserted that Brexit would fix the ‘downward pressure on wages for people on the lowest incomes’. Chapter 7 claimed that ‘workers’ rights’ would be retained and improved, noting the Review already underway to ‘consider how employment rules need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models’.

The actual plight of British workers

There is, contrary to popular belief, little evidence that free movement rules operating in the UK by virtue of its EU membership have had a depressive effect on wages or affected the availability of jobs. Instead, studies reveal that they tend to boost economic growth. The ‘posted workers’ regime, which enables temporary posting of workers between EU Member States may well have negative effects and accordingly is the subject of proposals for reform by the European Commission, which have been agreed to in principle by the European Council.

Of greater concern is the increasing frequency of hiring of workers through agencies or under zero hours contracts, such that secure employment has become scarcer, while real wages decline. These modes of employment have also become associated with what has been described as ‘platform work’, whereby drivers, couriers, carers and others sign up to an ‘app’ under contractual conditions designed to prevent them claiming rights under the most privileged legal category ‘employee’ (such as protection from dismissal) and even as a lower status ‘worker’ (such as the National Living Wage, paid holidays, and maximum working hours). At present, it is estimated that no more than 15% of the workforce are currently affected by such practices, but there are fears that, as such technology pervades the labour market, these modes of hiring will become more prevalent.

In a series of very recent cases from 2016-2017, businesses such as Addison Lee, Citysprint and perhaps most notably Uber, have all sought to evade their responsibilities for those who work for them in these ways. Employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal have firmly rejected their arguments that the drivers and couriers are not ‘workers’ and have found in favour of claims to wages and working time protections. In the care sector, even an express statement that a contract entailed ‘zero hours’ and led to no employment rights was found to be unenforceable.

To this extent, the courts are using current British employment law to try and protect those at work. They were recently joined by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which also found an ostensibly self-employed worker paid on commission to be entitled to extensive compensation for unpaid holiday pay. The notable exception is the rejection by the Central Arbitration Committee of an application for statutory trade union recognition of Deliveroo drivers in November 2017, on the basis that they were not ‘workers’. The unilateral introduction of ‘new contracts’ by Deliveroo that enabled drivers to choose substitutes to carry out the work for them (such that there was no ‘personal service’) prevented them from claiming that status.

Credit: Pixabay/Public Domain.

The current recommendations

Published in July 2017, the Review on Modern Working Practices sought to address these forms of precarity emerging in the British labour market. It made no reference to workers who are EU nationals, despite this stumbling block in current Brexit negotiations. Instead, the Taylor Review made a series of recommendations for ‘Good Work’ regarding precarious work. A response was expected from the current government by the end of 2017, although it now looks set for early 2018.

In the meantime, two House of Commons Committees (on Work and Pensions and on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) have intervened with their own joint Report published in November, proposing concrete legislative initiatives in support of the Taylor Review proposals. Indeed, the Report begins with Theresa May’s commitment to legislate for workers on the steps of Downing Street. Not to be outdone, so that it will not only be the Conservatives who are the ‘party of workers’, the Report pledges cross-party support for the reforms. The difficulty lies in what is proposed and its paucity.

The Report adopts the Taylor Review recommendation for legislative clarification of the tests for ‘employee’ and ‘worker’. The difficulty is that the list of legislative tests proposed seem more exacting than the practical approach advocated by the UK Supreme Court which takes account of the inequality of bargaining power between employer and employee (or worker). Moreover, the new statutory definition of ‘worker’ would still exclude the situation where an employer imposes a substitution clause to be used ‘freely’ in practice by the workforce, so the outcome in the Deliveroo case above would be unchanged.

Reversing the burden of proof regarding who will be regarded as a worker might seem superficially helpful, and will only be as helpful as the tests to be applied. Trade union representation could be better understood as a fundamental human right and should not be dependent on such technical definitions according to the International Labour Organisation. An entitlement to a one-sided written statement by the employer of one’s terms and conditions which would extend beyond employees to workers is also likely to have limited effect. Further, a premium on payment of non-guaranteed hours above the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage does nothing for workers whose wages may be above this level, but who cannot rely on work in any given week, so that their overall income remains at poverty levels. The issue of fictional choice neglected in the Taylor Review is barely addressed in the committees’ joint Report.

Similarly the Report neglects worker representation. The Taylor Review proposed that the threshold for application of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations be lowered to enable casual employees to speak out in the workplace. In his evidence to the committees, Matthew Taylor argued that otherwise workers could not stand up to employers, for example, on matters of health and safety.

Yet information and consultation which does not require an employer to act on workers’ views is vastly inferior in effect to collective bargaining backed up by recourse to effective industrial action. It is the latter which really needs to be protected, as the application in respect of the Deliveroo drivers demonstrates. The Trade Union Act 2016 and the draconian reforms therein which limited worker voice are not even mentioned by the Taylor Review or the joint Report. If the constraints on the choices and voices of those who work are not acknowledged, it is difficult to see how any legislation will ameliorate their current vulnerability. If the Conservatives simply follow these limited recommendations, they will not have acquired Lord Halfon’s ‘workers’ charter’; nor can they or will they be the party of the workers.

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Note: the above draws on the author’s PolicyBristol report (with Katie Bales and Alan Bogg) ‘Choice’ and ‘voice’ in modern working practices; an evidence informed response to the Taylor Review.

About the Author

Tonia Novitz is Professor of Labour Law at the University of Bristol Law School.

 

 

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

PMQs verdict: May and Corbyn’s Brexit exchange marks dispiriting low

With feeble questions and complacent answers, the arguments seemed ill-matched to the gravity of the situation

After many weeks avoiding the subject, Jeremy Corbyn’s six questions grilled Theresa May about the Brexit negotiations, which stalled on Monday when the DUP vetoed the prime minister’s proposed deal with the EU. Quoting Liam Fox, Corbyn began: “In July, the trade secretary said the Brexit negotiations would be the easiest in human history. Does the prime minister still agree?”

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