Too many people in the North are trapped in exploitative work, with wages below the cost of living, poor working conditions, and no stability. We will put that right.
Pay and Conditions
We will raise the minimum wage to £16 an hour for all workers of all ages, including those on apprenticeships. Younger workers and apprentices should not be exploited: work is work.
We will increase statutory sick pay for all workers to the higher of either the worker’s wage or a living wage of £16 per hour. Nobody should be forced to work sick, especially during a pandemic.
We will ban firing workers just to rehire them on worse contracts. This practise is wholly unacceptable and further degrades already poor working conditions.
We will abolish zero-hour contracts and unpaid internships. These are exploitative, and place an unfair burden of risk on workers. The widespread practice of unpaid internships also locks working class people out of key industries. In this spirit, we will also prevent any rollback of current child labour laws.
We will require employers to offer the default option to work from home wherever such work can be performed at home: any regular office attendance will be up to the employee. Employers will only be permitted to require office attendance for work that strictly cannot be completed at home, such as completing a first aid course. The pandemic has shown us that this is practical in many cases, and productive workers should be able to choose how and where they work wherever possible.
We will provide an immediate, 22% wage rise for NHS staff. This will help correct years of underinvestment in our NHS, improve worker retention and morale, and thereby enhance the quality of our service.
We want everyone to have shorter and more flexible working hours without reducing pay. NIP-run councils will lead the way by trialling four-day working weeks with flexible working and no reduction in compensation.
We will improve funding for apprenticeships by increasing the apprenticeship levy to 5% and doubling the allowance to protect small firms. This means companies will be required to contribute more to hiring and training apprentices. To improve retention, we will allow firms to pay the first two years of former apprentices’ wages from the levy funds, if they take their apprentices on permanently.
We will streamline the application process for apprenticeships. All qualifying apprenticeships should be listed on the UCAS website, with standardised applications and interview processes managed by UCAS to make it easier for school leavers to find apprenticeships. We will introduce a one-time £1000 relocation payment to be paid in advance to new apprentices who must relocate for their training. This will enable young people to undertake apprenticeships without worrying about the costs of moving.
We will abolish the practice of private companies setting standards for apprenticeships and instead have standards set by colleges and other institutions of further learning. This will ensure all apprentices gain a high-quality qualification which is portable across employers. Apprenticeships should be the foundation for a career in an apprentice’s chosen occupation, and not determined by the preferences of any single employer.
Workplace Rights Education
We will review the national curriculum to include education on workplace rights. From the history of the union movement to current rights and workplace practices, our children should be equipped with the knowledge they need to fight against exploitative conditions.
Sustainable Supply Chains
We will expand on modern slavery legislation to ensure those working in the Global South are not exploited when they contribute to our supply chains. This will improve conditions in those countries and protect jobs in the North as multinational corporations will no longer be able to outsource to countries with cheaper, more easily exploited labour.