THE TRADES UNION CONGRESS (TUC) has accused the UK Government of rowing back on its promise to boost workers’ rights, after ministers failed to include an employment bill in the Queen’s Speech.

In 2019, the government promised that it would bring forward a new employment bill to improve people’s rights at work. But two years on, no new legislation has been brought forward.

Commenting on the decision to exclude an employment bill from today’s Queen’s Speech, the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We can’t build back better from this crisis unless we improve pay and conditions at work. But the government has rowed back on its promise boost to workers’ rights by not bringing forward its long overdue employment bill.

“This pandemic has brutally exposed the terrible working conditions and insecurity many of our key workers in retail, care, and delivery face. We need action now to deal with the scourge of insecure work – not more dithering and delay.

“Zero-hours contracts and other exploitative working practices like fire and rehire must be banned once and for all. Every worker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work.”

TUC polling published last month revealed that more than eight in ten (84 per cent) working people want all workers to have the same basic rights.

Commenting on the lack of concrete proposals for social care, Frances O’Grady said: “It beggars belief that the government still hasn’t come forward with a proper plan for fixing the crisis in social care. The cost of inaction is failing those who rely on the care system and those who work within it.

“This pandemic has exposed huge problems with workplace safety, fragmentation of services and poor working conditions. We need an urgent and long-term boost in funding if we are to deliver a resilient, fully integrated health and care system.

“That means properly valuing those who work in social care. Social care workers have put their lives on the line for us. It’s not right that so many are on low pay and zero-hours contracts.”

On the government’s adult skills plan, Frances O’Grady said: Upskilling and retraining is vital to productivity. But we won’t level up this country by saddling workers with lifelong debt. The government must invest now for the future, and work with unions on a new skills system. Today’s plan falls well short.

“Many won’t be able to access the Lifetime Skills Guarantee because they already have a level 3 qualification. And the Lifelong Loan Entitlement won’t be rolled out until 2025.”

* Source: Trades Union Congress