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Labour hits out at ‘glaring omission’ of workers’ rights Bill in Queen’s Speech

·3-min read

Labour has accused the Government of “letting down” workers after an expected Bill on workers’ rights was not included in the Queen’s Speech.

The Opposition said the absence of an Employment Bill was a “glaring omission”, echoing complaints from trade unions.

Labour said the Government had failed to deliver on promises made more than 50 times by ministers to protect workers, leaving employment measures “left by the wayside”.

Opening the Queen’s Speech debate for Labour, the party’s new shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will say on Wednesday that the only way for the Government to meet challenges facing Britain is to build a “fair economic recovery”, shaped around protecting workers and creating the jobs of the future.

Labour added that ministers had not tackled the issue of “fire and rehire”, which has sparked a series of industrial disputes this year, or done anything to protect people on zero-hour contracts and in insecure work.

The Government has also failed to tackle a huge backlog of half a million employment tribunal cases, said Labour.

Ms Reeves will say: “Our economic foundations were not strong enough going into the pandemic and as we thankfully emerge from it, people deserve something better than before.

“We need a transformation of our economy, so all workers have not only the skills they need, but fair pay for a fair day’s work, and greater security and opportunities for the future.

“That’s got to be a major test of this Queen’s Speech and one the Government looks set to fail.

“Labour would deliver a fair recovery, by valuing those who have kept our country moving, helping British industries to thrive and by creating good quality jobs in every community as we decarbonise our economy.”

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said: “The Government claims to be serious about tackling insecurity at work, but this legislative programme fails the most basic test of introducing an Employment Bill to improve workers’ rights and tackle the appalling practice of fire and rehire.

“Once again we see the yawning chasm between Government rhetoric, which says that the epidemic of fire and rehire is unacceptable, and their deeds, which is to fail the workers of this country.”

Unions accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “rowing back” on promises to boost workers’ rights, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill to protect and enhance workers’ rights as we build back better from the pandemic.

“Through this legislation we are determined to build a high-skilled, high-productivity, high-wage economy that delivers on our ambition to make the UK best placed in the world to work and grow a business.

“We will introduce the Employment Bill when the time is right given the profound effects the pandemic is having on the economy and the labour market. In the meantime, we’re taking and have taken unprecedented but necessary steps to support businesses and protect jobs and we will continue to do so.”

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