Two in three voters want Boris Johnson's government to ban zero-hours contracts, poll finds

Survey shows public wants workers' rights guaranteed after Brexit and backs tax rises to pay for public services

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Monday 23 December 2019 08:16 GMT
Brexit second reading debate: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn clash of withdrawal bill

Two-thirds of voters want Boris Johnson‘s government to ban zero-hours contracts, a poll has found.

The public also wants workers’ rights protected after Brexit and tax rises for higher earners, according to the survey for the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Trade union leaders said the poll meant Mr Johnson had “no more excuses” for not ensuring that rights are protected after Brexit.

The prime minister has said he is aware that many former Labour voters lent the Tories their vote at the general election and expect the government to now deliver for them.

However, he faced immediate criticism this week after ditching workers’ rights guarantees from the bill ratifying his Brexit deal.

A guarantee that current rights would not be weakened was included in a draft of the bill published in October but has been dropped from the latest version, prompting criticism from Labour MPs and campaigners.

The government insists that workers’ rights will be protected in separate legislation.

According to the survey, conducted by GQR for the TUC, 73 per cent of voters want the government to maintain and enhance current workers’ rights guaranteed by the EU. At 79 per cent, the proportion is even higher among voters who switched from Labour to the Conservatives at the general election.

Sixty-eight per cent of voters want the minimum wage to be raised to £10 an hour immediately, rising to 76 per cent among Labour-Tory switches, while 66 per cent of voters also want to see zero-hours contracts banned.

Labour had vowed to scrap zero-hours contracts but the Tories have argued that they give workers flexibility and should be properly regulated but not banned.

The poll also revealed widespread support for tax rises on high earners. Sixty-eight per cent of voters, including 56 per cent of Conservatives voters, want taxes on people earning over £80,000 a year to go up.

Fifty-nine per cent of voters said they would personally be willing to pay more tax to ensure public services are properly funded, while 31 per cent would not.

Commenting on the poll, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “We know many in Boris Johnson’s cabinet who want to drive down labour standards, but there is little appetite in Britain for de-regulation and further tax cuts for the rich – including among Conservative voters.

“The prime minister has no more excuses. Voters expect him to protect and strengthen rights at work. And they want him to get on with investing in our public services and boosting wages.”

GQR conducted a nationally representative online poll of Great Britain, with fieldwork from 12-16 December. The total sample was 2,975 and results were weighted to national profiles by gender, age, region, socio-economic grade, education, ethnicity and vote share at the 2019 General Election.

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