Labour’s Rayner commits to sectoral collective bargaining in adult care

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has said that a fair pay agreement for adult care workers would be the first step in a future Labour government’s agenda to boost collective bargaining in the economy.

In a keynote speech to the Trades Union Congress’ annual conference, Rayner – who is also shadow secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities – set out Labour’s plans to increase workers’ rights and reverse anti-union laws passed since 2010.

‘We’ll boost collective bargaining, both at a firm level and sectorally,’ she said, ‘starting with a Fair Pay Agreement in adult social care.

‘We will empower workers, the trade unions that represent them and employers in this sector to negotiate fair pay, terms and conditions – like training, in-staff benefits and more.

‘As a former social care worker, I cannot overstate the difference this will make – not only to these low-paid and far too often overlooked workers, but also to our entire health care system, weighed down by years of Tory neglect.’

Sectoral collective bargaining would see all workers in an employment sector covered by collective agreements on pay and conditions, as opposed to separate deals negotiated on an employer-by-employer basis.

Given the high level of fragmented private sector ownership and casual employment in adult care,  replacing employer-based bargaining – which, given low levels of private sector unionisation, is often decided worker-by-worker – with collective agreements covering the entire sector is likely to put considerable upward pressure on pay for what is a notoriously underpaid workforce.

Rayner also re-committed Labour to banning zero-hours contracts, which are widely used in the adult care sector.

Earlier in the conference, Christina McAnea, general secretary of public sector trade union Unison, attacked the legacy of the current government.

‘After 13 years, not a single part of our public services have been immune from Conservative cuts. Years of austerity have left services reeling.

‘The longest NHS waiting lists in history, huge cuts to police forces and councils going bust. Care services are unable to deliver for patients, their families, or the workforce, but generate huge profits for offshore private equity trusts.’

Unison represents many of the unionised workers in the adult care sector.

‘The blame for all this belongs firmly at the door of the government in Westminster,” she added. “Workers across all public services, and everyone who relies on them, can see austerity has fractured and smashed the economy.’

More on this topic:

Adult care waiting lists down but service pressures remain, survey shows


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