British workers need greater share of economic gains in 2017, says TUC chief

Frances O’Grady urged the government to ensure workers’ rights are maintained  as the UK prepares to leave the EU

Zlata Rodionova
Friday 30 December 2016 09:38
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Britain will succeed when working people succeed, Frances O’Grady said
Britain will succeed when working people succeed, Frances O’Grady said

A new “bargain” is needed for Britain’s working people in 2017 in order to give them better protection and a fairer share of the country’s economic success, the head of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged.

In her New Year’s message, Frances O’Grady, said this year’s political turmoil has not benefited working people, who have not been able to take back much control over their lives during the last 12 months.

She cautioned the Government against compromising on rules protecting workers as the UK prepares to leave the EU and warned of the threat of “bad bosses” using the Brexit vote to water down regulations as they find convenient.

Ms O’ Grady said: “2016 will be remembered as the year the establishment was shaken to its core. And yet the political turmoil has not benefited working people. Few feel they have taken back much control over their working lives.”

The TUC general secretary was a vocal supporter of the remain camp during the referendum campaign

“So as we look to 2017, it’s clear that we need a new bargain between those at the top – enjoying soaring boardroom pay and insulated from economic change – and ordinary working people. Britain succeeds when working people succeed. And strong unions are the only way to make sure working people get their share in Britain’s success.”

Emphasising on having proper working hours for zero-hours contract workers, she added: “One in 10 of the UK workforce is now in precarious work.

“That’s 3.2 million workers in casual or agency work, on a zero-hours contract or in low paid self-employment.”

She said these workers need stronger unions to make their bosses listen to their demands.

In its outlook for 2017 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the next year will be even more challenging for Theresa May’s Government and UK businesses, with pay, Brexit, productivity and the gig economy dominating the labour market.

Ian Brinkley, of the CIPD, said: “The Brexit vote didn't cause the economy to fall off a cliff edge in 2016, but there's been a clear loss of confidence in international markets signalled by the fall in the pound and slowing inward investment.

“The single biggest thing that the Government could do to help in 2017 would be to give businesses greater certainty over the direction of travel, the residence status of migrants already in the country and the likely extent of restrictions on new flows of migrants.”

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