THE TUC SAYS THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT will face a “significant” voter backlash if it follows through on plans to rip up key workplace protections which originated from EU law. The warning comes as the union body publishes data from its new MRP poll – conducted by Opinium – which reveals nationwide and cross-party support for protecting EU-derived workers’ rights.
The polling also shows the Conservatives are set to have their 2019 majority wiped out, as voters reject Liz Truss’ economic agenda and attacks on workers’ rights.
The TUC says ministers have effectively “set off a ticking time bomb” on hard-won workers’ rights. The Retained EU Law Bill, soon due for second reading in the Commons, will automatically scrap a swathe of worker protections at the end of 2023, unless ministers choose to retain them.
The proposed law gives ministers huge powers to discard these protections, or replace them with watered down versions – putting at risk rights including holiday pay, equal pay for women, rest breaks, safe limits on working time and parental leave.
The TUC is calling on the government to ditch its plans to undermine hard-won rights, adding that the bill will cause chaos in workplaces and in the courts if ministers try and push it through.
The TUC says the polling shows the governing party is “haemorrhaging voters” in a “clear repudiation” by the British electorate of “Tory slash and burn economics” and attacks on workers’ rights.
Seven in ten (71 per cent) of voters support retaining EU-derived workers’ rights like holiday pay, safe limits on working times and rest breaks. The polling also shows huge support for protecting EU-derived workers’ rights – which the Conservatives are currently threatening – in the closest five marginals which the Tories won in 2019:
- Seven in ten (70 per cent) in Bury North
- Four in five (79 per cent) in Kensington
- Seven in ten (70 per cent) in Bolton North East
- Seven in ten (71 per cent) in Bury South
- Seven in ten (71 per cent) in High Peak
There is also overwhelming support for protecting these rights in the constituencies of key ministers who are pushing the attacks on workers’ rights.
- Seven in ten (72 per cent) voters in North East Somerset, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg’s constituency, support protecting EU-retained workers’ rights.
- Six in ten (63 per cent) voters in South West Norfolk, Prime Minister Liz Truss’ constituency, support protecting EU-retained workers’ rights.
The TUC says the Conservatives have shown they are “firmly on the side of bad bosses” and “the P&O party”.
Earlier this year, the P&O scandal saw 800 seafarers sacked without notice or consultation in what was widely regarded as a nadir in recent history for the mistreatment of workers in Britain.
In addition to key workplace rights like holiday pay being put at risk by the government, Truss has also pledged to undermine the rights of working people to strike for better pay and conditions.
The union body says that that workers face a “double whammy” as the Conservative government is threatening to rip up their legal rights while attacking their ability to defend their working conditions and living standards through collective action.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This Conservative government has set off a ticking time bomb under hard-won workers’ rights. Vital workplace protections – like holiday pay, safe limits on working hours and equal pay for women – are all at risk.
“Not content with throwing the economy into turmoil, ministers now seem determined to turn the clock back on rights in the workplace. This polling is a clear repudiation of Tory attacks on workers’ rights and their slash and burn economics.
“The prime minister has no mandate to take a sledgehammer to workers’ rights. Voters will punish her if she proceeds with these reckless plans – she must stop the chaos and ditch this damaging bill. The Conservatives have shown they are firmly on the side of bad bosses. They are the P&O party.”
Chris Curtis, head of political polling at Opinium, said: “It is undeniably true that the new Prime Minister has faced a backlash from voters in her first month in office, with polls better resembling a nightmare than a honeymoon.
“But elections aren’t just about national polls so our model, built on interviews with over 10,000 voters, analyses how this would play out in each of Great Britain’s 632 constituencies. The results are stark, showing that, if there were an election any time soon, a 1997 sized Labour landslide would be the most likely outcome.
“One of the main causes of the Tory poll flop is that the mini-budget is convincing voters that the party is on the side of the wealthy rather than working people. If the government want any chance of avoiding a once-in-a-generation wipeout at the next election then they need to turn this reputation around.
“One way they could do this is reverse their position on workers’ rights, with the polling showing that the vast majority of voters want stronger protections in the workplace.”
* Source: Trades Union Congress