Angela Rayner was given a standing ovation at the Trades Union Congress conference in Liverpool as she called on the Labour movement to “come together”.
She declared the battle to win over voters at the next general election is “getting started” as she revealed Labour’s vision to boost workers’ rights.
It comes as Labour had today announced that the party’s New Deal for Working People would include protections against unfair dismissal, a ban on zero-hour contracts, more flexible working and ending fire and rehire (when an employer fires an employee and offers them a new contract on new, often less-favourable terms).
Rayner said: “I come here with one message today, that the next Labour government will build an economy that works for working people, with a new deal for working people.
“Labour will start by bringing forward an employment rights bill to legislate for this within the first one hundred days of entering office. That’s a cast iron commitment.”
Rayner also pledged to repeal the government’s “vicious” anti-trade union laws, such as its minimum service levels bill.
“Strike is a last resort but a fundamental freedom that must be respected,” she told the conference.
Ms Rayner said a Labour government would “update trade union laws to make them fit for the 21st century”, adding: “For too long they have failed to keep up with the hard reality of the ground.”
The speech comes after some unions questioned Labour’s commitment to workers’ rights and accused the party of not being bold enough.
Last month, Rayner asserted that the New Deal for Working People proposals had not been “watered down“, following a report in the Financial Times that the package had been “diluted” during Labour’s National Policy Forum meeting in July.
According to new polling by Opinium for the TUC, some 62 per cent of the public support giving those working in the gig economy new rights and protections such as sick pay and holiday pay, including 59 per cent of Conservative 2019 voters. Only 6 per cent of those polled opposed the measure.
A ban on zero-hours contracts also has majority support, with 63 per cent of voters and 60 per cent of Conservative voters backing the proposal.
Greg Hands, the Conservative party chairman, has responded to Angela Rayner’s speech in a statement. He said: “The mask has slipped.
“Despite Keir Starmer’s short-term promises to be pro-business, his deputy leader is committing to Labour’s union paymasters that they will have more control over Britain’s economy.
“Reversing anti-strike laws will mean more strikes, damaging the economy and disrupting the lives of hardworking people.
“Only the Conservatives are delivering the protections we need to stop Labour-backed union leaders from trying to shut down the country.”
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