Union leaders blast any watering down of Labour’s New Deal for workers 

'Choosing May Day to give notice of watering down your promise to overhaul one of the worst sets of employment rights in Europe is beyond irony'

Sharon Graham Unite the union

Union leaders have issued strong warnings to the Labour Party against watering down its New Deal for Working People which would trigger a “robust response” from the trade union movement. 

The leader of Labour’s biggest trade union donor, Unite, has blasted Labour after it was reported on Wednesday that the party was planning to revise its landmark package for workers. 

The Unite leader Sharon Graham said notice of a rowback of workers’ rights coming out on May Day was “beyond irony” and warned “a red line will be crossed” if Labour fails to recommit to its pledges in the New Deal for Working People. 

“Choosing May Day to give notice of watering down your promise to overhaul one of the worst sets of employment rights in Europe is beyond irony,” Graham said. 

“If Labour do not explicitly recommit to what they have already pledged, namely that the New Deal for Workers will be delivered in full within the first 100 days of office, then a red line will be crossed.

“Labour’s vow to delivering a straightforward right of access for trade unions, and a much-simplified route to recognition and therefore the right to negotiate, is the litmus test for Unite. It’s a political non-negotiable”.

Any dilution of the New Deal would be “wholly unacceptable” said General Secretary of the RMT union Mick Lynch, as he warned Labour “not to bend the knee to corporate greed”.  

Lynch added: “Any attempt to water down this popular policy will be met with a robust response from the entire trade union movement.”

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union also said there should be “no rolling back” of Labour’s New Deal as he told the Financial Times (FT) that Labour will face a “hostile reaction” from unions if any further dilutions are announced. 

It follows reports in the FT that Labour was set to unveil a weakened package for workers in the coming weeks, following increased pressure from big business to waterdown its proposals. 

However a Labour Party spokesperson said nothing had changed since the National Policy Forum last year, LabourList reported. During the policy-making forum, changes were made to the wording of a series of commitments in the New Deal, which included not commiting to a full ban on zero-hour contracts and no longer committed to increase sick pay or extend it to the self-employed. 

These changes were reported on at the time but have come under further scrutiny this week. 

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

Comments are closed.