Jeremy Corbyn says he'll set up a Ministry of Labour to fight on the side of workers

Britain's previous ministry of Labour was set up by a Liberal-Conservative coalition government

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Indy Politics

A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would set up a Ministry of Labour to take the side of workers and create a “more secure, better trained workforce”, the leadership frontrunner has said.

Mr Corbyn, who is on course to win the Labour leadership election, argued that a specific government department should be responsible for employment issues, which are scattered between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Britain previously had a Ministry of Labour, which was established in 1916 by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition under then prime minister David Lloyd George.

The ministry looked after measures to reduce unemployment such as labour exchanges and dealt with industrial relations issues like sectoral minimum wages and health and safety regulations.

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Labour leadership hopefuls: Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn (Getty)

By the 1970s it became the Department for Employment and later the Department for Work and Pensions, which mainly focuses on issues to do with the welfare system.

 “What I’m looking for is a comprehensive access of workers’ rights legislation in the next parliament which would repeal much of what the Conservatives are doing – particularly the latest piece of anti-trade union legislation they’re introducing,” he said in a video interview with the Communication Workers’ Union.


“[I’d] also recreate a Ministry of Labour so that we have a specific government department whose job it is to deal with work, working conditions, and the issue that go with that. We’d actually create a more secure, better trained workforce.”

The CWU trade union, which mainly represents postal workers, has endorsed Mr Corbyn as the next leader of the party. The union's general secretary Dave Ward welcomed the candidate's new commitments.

“The announcement by Jeremy Corbyn that he would introduce Workers’ Rights Legislation and set up a Ministry of Labour is significant. The world of work has changed dramatically in a short space of time and with the explosion of insecure employment models in recent years, there is a clear need for government to redress the balance of power between employees and employers," he told the Independent.

“As a country we need to start to put people before profits. There has been a worrying growth in zero hour contracts, continued exploitation of agency workers through loopholes in the regulations and a growing scarcity in permanent full time jobs. The anti-trade union laws being put forward by the government shift things in the wrong direction – Jeremy is proposing a solution to a 21st century problem.”

Mr Corbyn also said it was imperative that workers had access to employment tribunals when they needed them and had the right to join a trade union if they wanted to.

A poll by YouGov for the Times newspaper released last night found that Mr Corbyn had opened up a huge lead in the Labour leadership election.

Though accurate polling of the contest is difficult, Mr Corbyn has also recorded the highest level of support in local constituency party nominations and attracted mass crowds to rallies.

The three other candidates for leadership of the Labour party are Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, and Yvette Cooper.