PMQs: Johnson slams Starmer for ‘unintelligible flip-flop’
Labour leader Keir Starmer has flip-flopped once again, watering down Labour’s policy on workers’ rights.
Sir Keir has reportedly diluted his pledge to increase protections for people working in the ‘gig economy’, amid a push by Labour HQ to woo wealthy business donors and corporate leaders.
A text agreed at last month’s National Policy Forum, which will form the basis of Labour’s 2024 manifesto, has been watered down from that agreed in 2021.
Instead of introducing an immediate policy to abolish gig economy workers, Labour will now merely consult on the proposal in Government, considering how a “simpler framework” could “properly capture the breadth of employment relationships in the UK”.
The policy now leaves open the option of retaining the gig economy sector, something even Ed Miliband promised to abolish in 2015, saying the review will ensure workers can still “benefit from flexible working where they choose to do so”.
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The party has also backtracked on a pledge to introduce “basic individual rights from day one for all workers”, including sick pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal.
Employees will now have to work through a probationary period before being entitled to such rights, albeit with “transparent rules and processes”.
The document, seen by the Financial Times, also confirmed businesses will retain the right under a Keir Starmer Government to fairly dismiss workers on the grounds of capability, conduct or redundancy.
Unite, Britain’s largest trade union and a major donor to Labour, gave a “thumbs down” to the policy when it was agreed at the National Policy Forum, refusing to back it.
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The hard-left Momentum group of Labour activists has slammed Sir Keir’s latest flip-flop, saying it is “wrong to water down its commitment on a single tier of status for workers”.
They also accused the Labour Party leadership of bowing to “corporate interests”.
A Labour spokesman said: “Labour are listening to business and unions to make sure we’ve got credible plans on the economy.”
Labour, in particular Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, have been pushing to woo over major corporate backers and donors to make the party more competitive with the Tories.
Party insiders have referred to the wining and dining mission as the “smoked salmon and scrambled egg” offensive.
It was recently revealed Labour’s 2024 business conference in January is charging up to £50,000 plus VAT for tickets.
The event will “showcase Labour’s offer to business as well as our commitment to work hand in glove with the business community to deliver the highest sustained growth in the G7”.
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