Leaving the Eu: Protection for Workers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:53 pm on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 1:53 pm, 6th March 2019

The Secretary of State started by talking about his party’s record on workers’ rights. He will forgive me for questioning whether the political party that put into legislation the Masters and Servants Act 1823, which codified corporal punishment for workers, has a good record on workers’ rights. Indeed, to bring us up to date, his party also introduced the anti-trade union Act.

Rather than guaranteeing or protecting workers’ rights, the statement does no such thing; in fact, it would be a misrepresentation to suggest otherwise. The Secretary of State will be aware that the EU is currently discussing regulations on the gig economy and rights for working parents that are far better than what can be found in the Government’s good work plan. If those EU regulations come to pass, how will the Government deal with them in this Chamber? Given that we keep being told that the next election is in 2022, is the Secretary of State committing the Government to at least matching EU regulations until then?

Given that the statutory instrument process is being used to weaken workers’ rights, as we saw recently with the denial of access to European works councils, what makes him believe that we should trust the Government on this? Will he, as a gesture of good will, table an amendable motion on the Government’s good work plan that will allow Members to strengthen regulations, particularly around zero-hours contracts and their elimination and sorting out workers’ status?