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Jeremy Corbyn slams 'UK's five worst employers'

·3-min read
Jeremy Corbyn arrives to speak outside University of London
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to speak at the University of London campus, in London, on 3 December. Photo: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Jeremy Corbyn has named the five companies he considers to be the UK’s “worst employers” while launching the Labour party’s manifesto on work on Tuesday.

The Labour leader called out tech giants Uber (UBER) and Amazon (AMZN), supermarket Asda, sports retailer Sports Direct (SPD.L) and outsourcing firm ISS, while declaring war on “bad bosses”.

Labour have pledged in their manifesto to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour for all employees, ban zero-hours contracts and have promised what they have labelled “the biggest expansion of workers’ rights in Britain’s history”. Corbyn has also pledged to ban what he called “bogus” self-employment, and repeal anti-Trade Union legislation if he wins the UK’s general election next week.

General secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Frances O’Grady welcomed the manifesto, saying: “Too many workers in Britain are treated like disposable labour. We’ve had enough of an economy that’s rigged in favour of bosses and corporations while working families struggle to get by”.

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Corbyn said at the launch: “The Conservatives are on the side of bad bosses who have exploited, ripped off and dehumanised workers.

“We’ll call time on insecure and unsafe work that leaves people without the rights and dignity they deserve. We’ll call time on discrimination in the workplace that leaves women vulnerable to harassment and unequal pay.

“And we’ll call time on the running down of workers’ rights to organise collectively to boost their pay and improve working conditions.”

Corbyn however faced a backlash from the firms he named as “the UK’s five worst employers”. Sports Direct did not respond to a comment request from the Independent, however other companies rebuked Corbyn’s claims of a poor employment record.

An Uber spokesperson defended their employment practices, saying that “drivers are at the heart of our service”, adding that “whether it’s being able to study for undergraduate degrees with Uber Pro or stronger insurance protections, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”

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Asda responded to Corbyn’s claims: “Despite the huge pressures facing our sector, we have worked to give a pay increase to almost 120,000 of our retail colleagues in return for a degree of flexibility that is standard in our industry and ensures fairness for all our colleagues”. Despite Asda’s pledged pay increase, unions have criticised their new offer as a “martini contract” because of a clause forcing the acceptance of variable shifts, meaning workers could have to work “any time, any place, anywhere”.

An ISS spokesperson also defended their practices, saying: “ISS salaries and benefits are also extremely benchmarked using metrics form other major employers and respected organisations, which ensures that remuneration arrangements are competitive”, however the firm has been criticised for failing to pay workers.

An Amazon spokesperson also described Labour’s claims as “false”. “The truth is that Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, starting at £9.50 and £10.50 per hour depending on location, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern work environment.

“We are incredibly proud of the safe environment that we provide all our employees. We benchmark Health & Safety Executive data and we have over 40% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing businesses in the UK”.

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