Taylor Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:47 pm on 7th February 2018.

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Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:47 pm, 7th February 2018

The tragic case of Don Lane, a DPD gig worker, epitomises the precarious and unstable working life many people face and the failure of the Government to protect workers. They needed to do something bold today, but it appears that they are simply papering over the bleak realities with rhetoric. Launching four consultations, merely considering proposals, and tweaking the law here and there is not good enough. How would any of this have actually helped Don Lane? It simply would not—that is the fact of the matter.

So I ask the Minister: which rights will apply to which workers from day one? How will they be quantified for zero-hours workers? Why, despite public support, have the Government not protected agency workers by abolishing undercutting through the Swedish derogation? How does a right to request more stable hours differ from the current position? Without an obligation on the employer to accept such a request, it is meaningless. Why have the Government not brought forward any meaningful proposals to protect gig workers? Defining working time misses the point. We needed clarity on workers being paid when they are logged into apps waiting to receive jobs, as well as clear and urgent direction on the legal status of gig workers. Why was there not even one mention of trade unions? On the genuinely self-employed, we see the creation of a website allowing the self-employed to talk to each other—well, bravo! Why is there no system of support and no recognition of the precariousness of their situation? This is simply window dressing.

What we needed today was radical new architecture of the law at work to protect workers, in which the genuinely self-employed are offered key protections and the involvement of workers through their trade unions is crucial. We saw none of that, and to miss those things out of any recommendations is to miss the ocean and look at the pebbles underneath.