“Totally Unrecognisable” – Keir Starmer’s Dire ‘Defect’ Week Continues as Unions Protest

Labour leader Keir Starmer faces mounting pressure from union chiefs over proposed workers’ rights reforms amidst concerns of watering down, while a surprising poll reveals even Tory voters support key elements of the ‘New Deal for Working People’. Here’s the full story.

Hardest Job in Politics

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It has been said that the hardest job in British politics is that of the leader of the opposition, and the truth behind that phrase has become all the more real for Labour leader Keir Starmer as he faces a tough week. 

Please Everyone, Upset No One

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With the Labour Party widely expected to form the next government at the upcoming election, as it still enjoys a 20-point lead in the polls, it appears that Starmer’s tactic of pleasing everyone and upsetting no one to prevent scaring off nervous Tory converts may finally have hit a snag. 

“New Deal for Working People”

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Union leaders are set to meet Starmer to discuss, among other things, the Labour Party’s proposed overhaul of workers’ rights, dubbed the “New Deal for Working People.”

Watering Down

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Concerns have emerged over the perceived watering down of the plans since they were initially proposed by Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, following considerable lobbying from business interests. 

“Right to Switch Off”

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Labour’s proposed reforms encompass a range of measures aimed at strengthening workers’ rights, which include day one protection against unfair dismissal, improvements to maternity and sick pay, bans on controversial zero-hours contracts and fire and rehire practices, an increase to the minimum wage, easier access to unions, and the so-called “right to switch off,” which would allow employees to turn off their devices to ensure work does not bother them in their time off. 

Surprising Levels of Support

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A recent poll by Savanta for the Daily Mirror revealed robust support for the reforms among Labour voters, but, more interestingly, there were also high levels of support for the changes amongst Conservative voters. 

“Near Universal Support”

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The Director of Political Research at Savanta, Chris Hopkins, told the Mirror, “Simply put, our research suggests the public really likes many of the policies underpinning Labour’s New Deal for Working People. It’s unsurprising that Labour supporters back better workers’ rights, but the fact that Conservative voters do as well suggests a level of near universal support for the New Deal.”

Serious Concerns

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Despite strong support for the “New Deal for Working People,” critical changes in the latest draft of the document have raised serious concerns among unions. 

Keeping Zero-Hour Contracts

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One of the most contentious changes to the proposal has been one which would allow workers to stay on zero-hours contracts if they prefer, which several unions have argued leaves the door open to worker exploitation. 

Unions Split

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While Unite, the Communication Workers Union, and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have raised concerns about the changes, other unions, including TUC, Community, and Usdaw, have given the proposals their full backing. 

“Totally Unrecognisable”

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Ahead of the meeting with Starmer, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said of the proposed changes, “This new Labour document on the New Deal, issued to the unions on Monday, is a row back on a row back. It is totally unrecognisable from the original proposals produced with the unions… Workers will see through this and mark this retreat after retreat as a betrayal.”

“Charter for Bad Bosses”

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She continued, “This new document is turning what was a real new deal for workers into a charter for bad bosses. Labour don’t want a law against fire and rehire and they are effectively ripping up the promise of legislation on a new deal for workers in its first 100 days. Instead, we have codes of conduct and pledges of consultation with big business. Likewise, the proposal to legislate against zero hours contracts is watered down to almost nothing.”

“Absolutely Committed”

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Such was the anger from the unions that, even before the meeting, Starmer was forced to clarify his position, stating, “I’m absolutely committed to our new deal for working people. This will be the biggest levelling up of workers’ rights in a generation, so there will be no watering down.”

Ongoing Fallout

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Another headache for Starmer that is likely to be discussed at the meeting is the ongoing fallout over hard-right Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke’s defection to the Labour Party. 

Natalie Elphicke

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Her defection has prompted scrutiny from unions due to her previous stance on anti-trade union legislation and anger from several Labour MPs, including Rosie Duffield and Jess Phillips, over Elphicke’s support for her ex-husband, Charlie Elphicke, after his conviction for sexual assault. 

Walking the Tightrope

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As Starmer braces for what could be a politically damaging week, the man with the hardest job in British politics must prepare to walk a tightrope to keep the unions happy while also maintaining a centre-left stance that will not scare away shy Tories who are considering voting Labour. However, whether Starmer is up to the challenge remains to be seen.

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The post “Totally Unrecognisable” – Keir Starmer’s Dire ‘Defect’ Week Continues as Unions Protest first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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