A Labour government would ban zero hour contracts, increase the minimum wage, and introduce guaranteed sick pay, Sir Keir Starmer has vowed in his speech to the Trade Unions Congress this morning.
Arguing that to raise a family people need jobs with “security and certainty”, he said Labour would ban zero hours contracts and replace them with regular contracts which actually reflect the hours normally work.”
He also expressed the importance of a “real living wage”, and said that “Labour would immediately increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour.”
He said he felt that it was “not good enough” that the UK has one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe. And in a policy commitment he promised that a future Labour government under his leadership would both ensure all workers are eligible for sick pay and increase its level.
He also said a Labour administration would introduce the right to flexible working and maternity leave from the first day of employment.
He characterised the Government’s public sector pay cuts as “unjust”, and further criticised the £1,000-a-year cut to working families on Universal Credit along with the “broken promise” on national insurance.
He also expressed a wish to improve Britain’s domestic industries and said: “It cannot be right that just one UK-based firm was shortlisted for billions of pounds worth of HS2 contracts, with the other shortlisted firms all based overseas.“
“Visiting a wind farm in Scotland this summer, I was told that the turbines are shipped across from Indonesia, 7,000 miles away.”
He also recounted his legal work with the NUM in the 1980s and took aim at Boris Johnson’s “utterly shameful” jokes regarding the shutting down of coal mines.
Recalling his experiences as a child, he told the union delegates how his father would “go to work every day at 8 in the morning, come home for his tea at 5, and then back to work, 6 til 10 in the evening, 5 days a week”. Looking to the future, Starmer said, “Everyone should be able to get a job that you can raise a family on”.
This speech comes on the back of a week in which the Labour leader has criticised the Government’s plans to increase National Insurance rates to fund the £12 billion-a-year increase in health and social care spending, but in which Labour has also faced criticism for failing to outline how they would alternatively fund the plans.