Angela Rayner vows to make trade union laws “fit for the 21st century”

"It's not a nice add on. It's not something just to keep the unions happy," assured Rayner at TUC Congress

Addressing the TUC Congress, Angela Rayner reinforced her promise to trade unions that the next Labour government will ask Parliament to repeal anti-trade union laws within the first 100 days of office.

“The next Labour will build an economy with a new deal for working people,” pledged Rayner.

The Shadow Secretary of State from Levelling Up, Housing and Communities received a warm reception, and a standing ovation from the TUC Congress, as she pledged to update trade union laws to be “fit for the 21st century”.

Keir Starmer has previously made the speech at Congress in years past – which was raised some questions over Rayners standing in, although he did attend a big dinner on Monday evening with trade union bosses. With word on the grape vine that the Labour leader was put through his paces with some friendly joke-making from TU general secretaries, whilst received a standing ovation for a “comradely” speech, despite it containing “nothing new”.

Whilst Starmer was wining and dining, Rayner also addressed Congress attendees at a fringe evening event, where she was adamant that her government would deliver for workers.

“And anyone who knows me, they know I’m no angel, but they know I get things done,” she told guests.

She said Labour’s New Deal for working people is a “real game changer” not just for working people but for “good employers who want to do the right thing”.

She also promised that the next Labour government will act decisively to stamp out blacklisting at work “once and for all”, promised to ban zero-hour contracts, boost collective bargained, and that Labour will work faster to end the gender pay gap and bring in a proper living wage.

Speaking on the New Deal, Rayner said: “It’s not a nice add-on. It’s not something just to keep the unions happy. It is absolutely vital to carry our missions going forward, and we’ll make sure that we secure it.

“The trade union movement has given me so many opportunities. They appreciate who you are, they don’t try and mould you into something you’re not,” added Rayner.

She said “one of the most important things” that they would deliver is around “collective rights and strengthening trade unions, repealing the anti-trade union laws.”

Rayner also slammed the Tory agenda as “a sham and a scam” saying “the mask has slipped and the public has seen the truth”.

Some critics have pushed back and questioned what the concrete commitments are from Labour given recent rowing back of pledges.

One X user questioned: “So why won’t Labour say how many council houses they’ll build, commit to a £15/hr min wage, restore council budgets and confirm they’ll rebuild surestart centres?”

A latest poll from the TUC showed that even Tory voters support Labour’s New Deal for Workers, which shows large-scale support across the political spectrum for Labour’s flagship workers’ rights programme.

The TUC backed Rayner’s speech, saying that she set out a vision for a Britain that “delivers for working people”. Whilst UNISON responded to her speech by saying a Labour government would “dramatically improve the lives of working people and their families”.

Rayner ended her speech by calling for trade unions’ support for the Labour Party going into the next election.

“There’s no doubt that Labour has to win, but to get this victory we have to stand together, campaign together and stand side by side. We need your help,” said Rayner.

“Labours New Deal will transform workers lives and crucially it will strengthen the role of trade unions in our society.

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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