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GMB Welcome Labour Election Pledges

Monday, April 13, 2015

GMB Welcome Labour Election Manifesto Pledges To Give Workers Rights To Shield Them From Exploitation

Voters are faced with a stark choice - a party governing in the interest of corporate bosses with zero hours contracts and for tax breaks for the wealthy elite or a party seeking to provide rights and protection for working people says GMB.

GMB welcomed the Labour Party election manifesto pledges on building an economy that works for working people.  See notes to editors for pages 15 to 30 of the Labour Party manifesto 2015 on building an economy that works for working people.

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said "At long last we have a major political party prepared to address and give rights to workers to shield them from exploitation in their workplaces.

Voters are faced with a stark choice - a party governing in the interest of corporate bosses with zero hours contracts and for tax breaks for the wealthy elite or a party seeking to provide rights and protection for working people."

End

Contact: Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Equality and Diversity Officer on 07956 237178 or Lisa Johnson 07900392 228 or Martin Smith, GMB National Organiser on 07974 251722 or GMB Press Office 07921 28988.

Notes to editors

  1. Pages 15 to 30 of the Labour Party Manifesto 2015 Building an economy that works for working people...

“We will build an economy that works for working people

We know a simple truth. Britain only succeeds when working families succeed. It is how our country has won through in the past and how it will succeed in the future. But so many people are putting in the hours and not seeing the rewards. That is why there is a cost of living crisis. Our first task in government is to change our economy so that it works for all of Britain’s businesses and working people.

The Conservatives claim that the economy is fixed and that our country is on the right track. But the economy is not creating the productive, high-skilled and well-paid jobs that we need to raise living standards. The lack of rewarding work and training opportunities is trapping hundreds of thousands of young people in a cycle of benefits and low-paid, insecure jobs. And consumers are overcharged in markets they rely on to meet their everyday needs, whether to heat their homes or travel to work.

For most of the 20th century, there was a vital link between the success of the country and family finances. As the country got better off, so did working people. But the link between the success of the country and the family budget has been broken. Since 2010, working people are earning on average £1,600 less a year after inflation. We have seen the greatest fall in wages over a parliament since 1874.

Over five million people are in low-paid jobs, earning less than the Living Wage. There are 1.8 million zero-hours contracts. 1.3 million are working part-time because they cannot get a full-time job. Half of all those in poverty live in working households. 900,000 people, many of them in work, used food banks last year.

This cost-of-living crisis is bad for families, bad for business, and bad for Britain. Lower levels of pay have meant lower tax receipts and higher spending on social security.

We will have to work and earn our way toward a more fairly shared and enduring prosperity. We are a great commercial nation that has been at the centre of global trade for centuries. We have a long tradition of innovation and enterprise. We have been quick to seize the opportunities of the internet. We have big strengths to build upon: world-leading universities, an outstanding science research base, an open economy with one of the highest rates of foreign direct investment in the world, and many successful global companies. An inclusive wealth-creating economy works when there is a shared sense of responsibility, so we will be a government that is both pro-business and pro-worker. We value all our businesses as organisations of innovation and wealth production, and we will work strategically with them to create wealth.

We value our trade unions as an essential force for a decent society and as guarantors of skills and fair wages.

A Strong Economic Foundation

The next Labour Government will balance the books. We will only lay a Budget before the House of Commons that cuts the deficit every year, which the Office for Budget Responsibility will independently verify. We will get national debt falling and a surplus on the current budget as soon as possible in the next Parliament and these fiscal commitments will not be compromised. We will tackle the root causes of the deficit by building a more productive economy with living standards that rise year-on-year.

The Conservative-led Government promised to balance the books in this Parliament. But this promise has been broken. The Conservatives will leave the country borrowing over £75 billion this year.

Labour’s plan to balance the books means making tough, but fairer choices. We will reverse the Government’s top-rate tax cut so that the highest one per cent of earners, with an income of over £150,000, contribute a little more to help get the deficit down. We will stop paying Winter Fuel Payments to the richest five per cent of pensioners, and cap child benefit rises for two years. Outside of the protected areas of health, education and international development there will be cuts in spending. Ministerial pay will be cut and then frozen until we have balanced the books. All proceeds from the sale of our stakes in Lloyds and RBS will be used to repay the national debt.

We will live within our means. We have no proposals for any new spending paid for by additional borrowing. All of our commitments will be paid for by reducing spending elsewhere or by raising extra revenue. For example, we will introduce a tax on properties worth over £2 million to help raise the £2.5 billion a year for an NHS Time to Care Fund – part of our plan to save and improve the health service. We will legislate to require all major parties to have their manifesto commitments independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility at each general election.

We will cap structural social security expenditure in each spending review so that it is properly controlled. We will implement the proposals of Labour’s Zero-Based Review, which has already identified savings we will make through reforming old government bureaucracies, devolving power and services to our towns and cities, and redesigning public services, and which we will continue in government. We will invest to prevent social problems rather than waste money reacting to them. And we will use digital technology to create a more responsive, devolved, and less costly system of government.

Fairer taxes

We will create a fairer tax system, helping those on middle and lower incomes by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, paid for by ending the Conservatives’ Marriage Tax Allowance. We will not increase the basic or higher rates of Income Tax or National Insurance. Nor will we raise VAT, and we renew our pledge not to extend it to food, children’s clothes, books, newspapers or public transport fares.

Our first Finance Bill will close the tax loopholes that cost the Exchequer billions of pounds a year. We will introduce tougher penalties for those abusing the tax system, end unfair tax breaks used by hedge funds and others, and bear down on disguised employment. We will seek international agreement to make country-by-country reporting information publicly available, and we will act at home if agreement is not reached. British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will be required to produce publicly available registries of the real owners of companies based there.

We will carry out an immediate review into the culture and practices of HMRC so that everyone follows the same rules and we increase the rigour of the tax system. And we will abolish non-dom status so that all those who make the UK their home pay tax in the same way as the rest of us. It is by tackling tax avoidance in this concerted fashion that we can reduce the deficit and protect the family budgets of working people.

Improving productivity and a new industrial strategy

Labour will improve productivity by building a long-term investment culture in the private and public sectors, and supporting small businesses in their growth to becoming British success stories of the future. With Labour, Britain will continue to have the most competitive rate of Corporation Tax in the G7. Building world-class infrastructure will be crucial to fostering economic growth. We will create certainty for investors by taking a long-term approach to the major investment decisions facing the country. We will set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission to assess how best to meet Britain’s infrastructure needs. It will make recommendations to government, monitor their implementation, and hold government to account. These measures and our long-term approach will help reinforce Britain’s status as one of the world’s greatest centres of science and engineering.

We will continue to support the construction of High Speed Two, but keep costs down, and take action to improve and expand rail links across the North to boost its regional economies. We will support long-term investment in strategic roads, address the neglect of local roads, and promote cycling.

Following the Davies Review, we will make a swift decision on expanding airport capacity in London and the South East, balancing the need for growth and the environmental impact.

Scientific discovery and technological innovation will drive economic advancement this century. We will introduce a new long-term funding policy framework for science and innovation, providing the stability and continuity that our companies and research institutes need to succeed.

We will work to make Britain a world leader in low carbon technologies over the next decade, creating a million additional green jobs. This aim will be supported by ambitious domestic carbon reduction targets, including a legal target to remove the carbon from our electricity supply by 2030, and a major drive for energy efficiency.

Our industrial strategy for the green economy will end the current uncertainty for investors, with a timetable for the Green Investment Bank to be given additional powers so that it can invest in green businesses and technology. We will create an Energy Security Board to plan and deliver the energy mix we need, including renewables, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage, and clean coal.

For onshore unconventional oil and gas, we will establish a robust environmental and regulatory regime before extraction can take place. And to safeguard the future of the offshore oil and gas industry, we will provide a long-term strategy for the industry, including more certainty on tax rates and making the most of the potential for carbon storage.

Labour’s longer-term approach will drive innovation and build on our strengths as a leader in digital technology. We are just at the start of the internet revolution. Digital technology has transformed start-up costs making it easier to run your own business. There is a widening in the application of new transformative technologies in the fields of robotics, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data. Our economy is developing a network of connections that will revolutionise innovation.

Labour will ensure that all parts of the country benefit from affordable, high speed broadband by the end of the Parliament. We will work with the industry and the regulator to maximise private sector investment and deliver the mobile infrastructure needed to extend coverage and reduce ‘not spots’, including in areas of market failure. And we will support community-based campaigns to reduce the proportion of citizens unable to use the internet and help those who need it to get the skills to make the most of digital technology.

Our universities are amongst the finest in the world. Some are already helping our regional economies by forming strong links with industry and creating high-tech clusters. They have already spun out hundreds of companies creating thousands of jobs. We will support this model of knowledge clusters, especially outside the South East.

Britain’s economy is being held back by the culture of short-termism, which is a major obstacle to the development of productive businesses and industries. We will reform corporate governance to protect our leading firms from the pressure to put tomorrow’s share price before long-term growth potential.

Institutional investors will have a duty to act in the best interests of ordinary savers. They will have to prioritise long-term growth over short-term profits for the companies in which they are investing. We will change takeover rules to enhance the role of long-term investors by restricting voting to those already holding shares when a bid is made. In addition, we will strengthen the public interest test.

We will improve the link between executive pay and performance by simplifying pay packages, and requiring investment and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote on top pay. And we will make sure employees have a voice when executive pay is set by requiring employee representation on remuneration committees.

In this way we can start to create an economy based on mutual obligations, encouraging employers and employees to build partnerships for improving both business performance and job quality. Outdated practices, like blacklisting, have no place in a modern economy.

Our charities, mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises are pioneering new models of production that enhance social value, promote financial inclusion, and give individuals and communities power and control. We will continue to support and help develop the social economy by improving access for co-operative and mutual organisations to growth finance through the new British Investment Bank. And we will consider how to support employee buy-outs when businesses are being sold.

We will safeguard the public interest in the Royal Mail, supporting the creation of a staff-led trust for the employee share, and keeping the remaining 30 per cent in public ownership. We will also support the universal service obligation, ensuring competition does not undermine it and introducing protections as necessary.

Backing small business

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Their creativity and dynamism are vital for raising productivity and competing in the global economy. Labour will give them a voice at the heart of government – a Small Business Administration, which will ensure procurement contracts are accessible and regulations are designed with small firms in mind.

We will address rising costs for small businesses and strengthen rules on late payment. Labour will put small businesses first in line for tax cuts. Instead of cutting Corporation Tax again for the largest firms, we will cut, and then freeze business rates for over 1.5 million smaller business properties.

We will develop a banking system that works for businesses in every region and every sector in Britain. The long-standing problems of our banking system mean that too many small and medium-sized businesses cannot get the finance they need to invest and grow.

Labour will establish a British Investment Bank with the mission to help businesses grow and to create wealth and jobs. It will have the resources to improve access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses, and will support a network of regional banks.

We will increase competition on the high street. Following the Competition and Market Authorities inquiry we want a market share test and at least two new challenger banks. And we will deal with the scourge of household debt by introducing a new levy on payday lenders, using the funds raised to boost low-cost alternatives like credit unions.

Better work and better pay

Britain’s route to prosperity and higher living standards is through more secure and better paid jobs. But Conservative policies are causing whole sectors of the economy to be dragged into a race to the bottom on wages and skills.

The Government has weakened employment rights and promoted a hire-and fire culture. Labour believes our economy can only succeed in a race to the top – competing in the world with better work, better pay and better skills.

Too many people do a hard day’s work but remain dependent on benefits. We will raise the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019, bringing it closer to average earnings. We will give local authorities a role in strengthening enforcement against those paying less than the legal amount. And we will support employers to pay more by using government procurement to promote the Living Wage, alongside wider social impact considerations. Our Make Work Pay contracts will give tax rebates to businesses who sign up to paying the Living Wage in the first year of a Labour Government. Publicly listed companies will be required to report on whether or not they pay the Living Wage.

It is hard for Britain to succeed when employees feel insecure and employers are undercut by those using exploitative working practices. Labour will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts. Those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract. We will abolish the loophole that allows firms to undercut permanent staff by using agency workers on lower pay.

The Conservatives have introduced fees of up to £1,200 for employment tribunal claimants, creating a significant barrier to workplace justice. We will abolish the Government’s employment tribunal fee system as part of wider reforms to make sure that affordability is not a barrier to workers having proper access to justice, employers get a quicker resolution, and the costs to the tax payer do not rise.

Labour is the Party of work, and we value working life. We will push up standards and boost productivity by implementing the commitments in Labour’s Workplace and Business manifestos.

Supporting the next generation

Over 700,000 of our young people are unemployed. Too many of them do not have the skills they need for work. And yet in the past year the number of young people starting apprenticeships has fallen. The Government’s decision to triple university tuition fees leaves young people either starting their working lives burdened by £44,000 of debt, or without a clear alternative path to a decent career.

Labour will cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year, funded by restricting tax relief on pension contributions for the highest earners and clamping down on tax avoidance.

We will tackle the growth of unpaid internships because thousands of highly able young people who cannot afford to work for free are locked out of too many of our professions.

We will introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, paid for by a bank bonus tax. It will provide a paid starter job for every young person unemployed for over a year, a job which they will have to take or lose benefits.

For too long we have failed to provide a system which makes the best use of the talents of young people. So we will guarantee every school leaver that gets the grades an apprenticeship. We will create thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector, including the civil service. Every firm getting a major government contract, and every large employer hiring skilled workers from outside the EU, will be required to offer apprenticeships.

We will give employers more control over apprenticeships funding and standards. In return, we will ask them to increase the number of high quality apprenticeships in their sectors and supply chains. We will also give them the powers to deal with any free-riding employers who do not train.

Labour’s apprenticeships will be gold-standard qualifications. We will re-focus existing spending away from low-level apprenticeships for older people, and towards a system where apprenticeships are focused on new job entrants, lasting at least two years, and providing level three qualifications or above.

We will make sure that apprenticeships can lead to higher level qualifications by creating new Technical Degrees and supporting part-time study. They will be co-funded, co-designed and co-delivered by employers and they will be the priority for expansion within our university system.

Young people who do not have the skills they need should be in training, not on benefits. We will replace out of work benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds with a new Youth Allowance dependent on recipients being in training and targeted at those who need it most.”

  1. Link to Labour Party Manifesto 2015 http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/the-labour-party-manifesto-2015
     

 

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