Election 2017: Theresa May promises to advance workers' rights

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 17, 2017

Speaking at a policy launch in Westminster, he said: "We could I think be forgiven for finding it galling that the ever-pragmatic Tory party has lately donned so many of our clothes - and isn't it interesting, by the way, that Mrs May is being ferried around the country in the very battlebus that was used for the Conservative Remain campaign this time past year?"

Prime Minister Theresa May promised to expand the rights of workers, boosting protection for those in the "gig economy". The leave would not be paid but employees would be guaranteed to return to their job at their existing salary once the period was over.

Theresa May's unveiling of a statutory right to unpaid "care leave" is one of 11 pledges in what she will describe as the "greatest expansion of workers' rights" by any Conservative government.

Dr Craig Dalzell, lead researcher at the Scottish think tank Common Weal questioned whether the set of policies, in fact, amounted to a new bill of rights.

Their gains came at the expense of the Liberal Democrats which slipped three points to 8 percent and the UK Independence Party which dropped two points to 6 percent.

"And while it's good to see the PM reaffirm her pledge to protect existing rights at work, she needs to ensure that British workers don't miss out on future European Union rights too".

The move will be seen as a dramatic break with the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, who introduced the right to buy for council tenants in the 1980s - blamed by critics for the steep fall-off in council house building which followed.

The Conservatives' pledges include new legal provisions for workers and a promise that existing rights will be maintained despite the nation's exit from the European Union - which now guarantees workers' rights. Consequently, the number of challenges at tribunal has gone down, affecting predominately women and ethnic minorities.

This is a canny strategic play by the TUC chief, increasing the pressure on May to make good on these commitments, and reducing her capacity to accuse unions of obstinate militancy. May is attempting to rebrand the Tories as the party for workers.

Mrs May, on tour in southern England, will say on Monday: "There is only one leader that will put rights and opportunities for working families first".

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, was equally sceptical, saying "the greatest extensions of workers' rights by a Tory government frankly wouldn't be that hard to achieve given recent history".

"With the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament, the SNP government has worked tirelessly to support workers".

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