Trade Union Access to Workplaces — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:45 pm on 4th June 2019.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston 4:45 pm, 4th June 2019

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have seen an explosion of insecure employment in this country in recent years. We wonder why people are so fed up with the way this country is run. People have no security and do not know what they are doing from one day to the next. Let us not forget that until someone has two years of continuous employment somewhere, they have no employment rights whatsoever. What kind of country is that? We do not really want to live in a place where people have no protection until they have been somewhere for two years. Their whole life could change in that period. We absolutely need more support at an earlier stage for people who live in these precarious times.

This is not only about improving workplace rights, but about sending a message to employers that we need to move to a much more stable system, and we need the Government to bring forward legislation to encourage that. A good example is New Zealand’s Employment Relations Amendment Act, which has already had a positive impact on the workforce, restoring protections and strengthening the rights of workers without causing disruption to business. Just as importantly, it has changed people’s attitudes towards their right to represent themselves. I think the people of this country deserve the same. It is a shame that there are absolutely zero Members on the Tory Back Benches. That tells us absolutely everything that we need to know about the priority that the Conservative party places on this issue. In these circumstances, the idea that it could rebrand itself as the party of the worker is a joke.

In conclusion, it is only through improved access to workplaces that unions will be able to inform individuals of their rights and, critically, ensure that those rights are enforced—people’s rights are only as good as their ability to enforce them. Only then will we see real changes and improvements to people’s working lives. It is my belief that it is the duty of the Government to be an enabler in that process, not an accomplice to those who would deny people those basic rights.