Starmer guarantees workers’ rights package amid speculation of watering down

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the party is committed to progressing its new deal for workers in full if it wins the general election, following speculation it could be watered down.

The party has said it will strengthen rights and protections for workers by banning zero hours contracts and ending fire and rehire practices.

In The Sunday Times Lord Peter Mandelson, a major figure in Tony Blair’s Labour, wrote that changes to labour market and trade union law “must not be rushed” and “must be done in consultation with business”.

When Sir Keir was asked if he could guarantee the workers’ rights package would be implemented in full, he said: “Yes.”

The Labour leader added: “Let me tell you why, because I believe deep down that respect and dignity at work matters.

“This goes back to what I said about my dad. It really matters that people feel respected, that they feel they have their dignity at work.

“But there is an additional reason, and that is as every good employer knows, that if you do treat people with respect and dignity at work then that increases productivity, that increases the growth in your business and enterprise and it is actually good for the economy.”

In his speech in the Black Country launching the party’s local election campaign, Sir Keir sought to emphasise Labour’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, saying: “Policies have to be paid for. Every pound is precious.

“And this Labour Party, with Rachel Reeves as chancellor, will value every pound as if it’s yours because at the end of the day, it is.”

He went on to say he would not pretend “there’s a magic money tree” because the Tories have “broken the economy”.

But, when outlining the party’s plan for economic growth, the Labour leader did say that investment was required to “relight the fires of renewal” in formerly industrial regions.

Keir Starmer visit to West Midlands
Sir Keir Starmer has said Labour is committed to progressing its new deal for workers in full if it wins the general election (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He said: “In a world as volatile as ours, with new technologies in life science, clean energy, artificial intelligence all on the horizon, it is our job to make sure regions like this are backed with the investment that they need.

“The gigafactories that will make electric car batteries across the Midlands, the renewable port ready to take offshore boom in the North Sea, the clean steel that can bring the next generation of jobs to Scunthorpe or Sheffield.

“And when we create jobs in communities like this, we do so with a new deal for working people.

“Not just because work should always provide dignity, but also because a labour market riddled with insecurity is bad for productivity and bad for growth.

“So we will scrap zero hour contracts, we will end fire and rehire, make work pay with a real living wage and say unambiguously – this is good for growth.”