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Wolves of Westminster

UK Political News and Opinion

Long-Bailey seeks extension of union powers in leadership campaign

2 min read
8 February 2020 | UK NEWS

Rebecca Long-Bailey revealed more of her plans to strengthen union representation as part of her leadership campaign yesterday. According to an e-mail sent out by her campaign team, the move comes as part of Long-Bailey’s plan to “build a modern, Democratic Socialist economy”.

If elected as Labour Leader and subsequently as Prime Minister, Long-Bailey’s plans include a “mass trade union membership drive”, to encourage people to join a union if they have not already. She would also seek to “back workers in every dispute and strike”, and her campaign has said that Labour, under her leadership, would “never [return] to when Labour condemned striking teachers or firefighters”.

Long-Bailey would also seek to prune back existing legislation viewed by her campaign as “anti-union”, while introducing new commitments such as a “right to free time” – which would prevent employers from contacting staff outside of normal working hours – and a “right to organise platform workers”.

The latter move is understood to be a bid to enable trade unions to contact workers in the so-called ‘gig economy’, e.g. people who work for companies such as Uber, to “encourage them to join their union”. It is unclear to what extent existing data protection legislation may impact upon this plan.

Speaking at a rally in Sheffield yesterday, the leadership hopeful stated that she would back striking workers and their trade union representatives “no questions asked” in any industrial disputes, adding that the next Labour Leader needed to be “as comfortable on the picket lines as at the dispatch box”. She also said that Labour is “the parliamentary wing of the whole labour and trade union movement, and our path to power is in rebuilding it”.

The next Labour Leader will be announced on 4 April. We will bring you further developments as they come in.

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