John McDonnell promises £10 living wage and ‘interventionist’ Labour government

Labour will repeal the Trade Union Act in its first 100 days in government


Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has promised that a Labour government would introduce a living wage of at least £10 by 2020, and would repeal the Trade Union Act during its first 100 days.

In his speech to a packed hall at Labour Party Conference, he said:

“I have spoken before about building on the great achievements of previous Labour governments. One of the greatest achievements of the government elected in 1997 was the establishment of a national minimum wage, lifting millions out of poverty. The Tories opposed it, claiming it would cost millions of jobs, but – united in purpose – we won the argument.

Under the next Labour government, everyone will earn enough to live on. When we win the next election we will write a real Living Wage into law. We’ll charge a new Living Wage Review Body with the task of setting it at the level needed for a decent life. Independent forecasts suggest that this will be over £10 per hour. This will be a fundamental part of our new bargain in the workplace.”

However, he argued that ‘until working people have proper protections at work, the labour market will always work against them.’

“To achieve fair wages, the next Labour government will look to implement the recommendations of the Institute of Employment Relations. We’ll reintroduce sectoral collective bargaining across the economy, ending the race to the bottom on wages. And let me give you this commitment: in the first hundred days of our Labour government, we’ll repeal the Trade Union Act.”

McDonnell also reiterated his commitment to a national investment bank and a £250bn programme of investment, ‘that will ensure that no community is left behind.’

He accused the government of failing to recognise the changing tides of the global economy, saying that they are ‘so blinkered by their ideology that they can’t see how the world is changing.’

“Look at the steel crisis. With the world market flooded by cheap steel, major governments moved to protect their domestic steel industries. Ours did not, until we pushed them to.”

Labour will, in contrast, form an ‘interventionist’ government that fosters ‘a renaissance in British manufacturing.’

On Brexit, he pledged to protect “access” to the single market for goods and services to protect jobs, and to defend workers’ rights and the rights of EU migrants in the UK and British people elsewhere in Europe.

He also affirmed that Labour ‘will support access to European markets for financial services’ but warned the financial services that ‘2008 must happen again’.

In closing, McDonnell spoke about his own upbringing in Liverpool, in a generation that enjoyed a dramatic increase in living standards through free education, free healthcare and council housing. That generation, he said, ‘always thought that from here on there would always be a steady improvement in people’s living standards.’

Speaking about the possibility of Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, could restore that optimism, McDonnell concluded:

“Imagine the society that we can create. It’s a society that’s radically transformed, radically fairer, more equal and more democratic. Yes, based upon a prosperous economy but an economy that’s economically and environmentally sustainable and where that prosperity is shared by all.

That’s our vision to rebuild and transform Britain.

In this party you no longer have to whisper it, it’s called Socialism.”

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