Leading Labour figures call for radical rethink of work to reconnect with voters

Leading Labour figures are calling for a radical rethink of work in order to reconnect with voters they have lost.

Chair of the Business Select Committee Rachel Reeves has joined with the GMB union to warn that something needs to change when full employment in 2020 means working three jobs and job security is almost a “nostalgic throwback”.

Based on a series of interviews with workers in Yorkshire, the pamphlet “Everyday Work” argues Labour needs to put work at the heart of its strategy to reconnect with lost voters.

Ahead of its launch at a GMB event in Leeds on Saturday, she told the Mirror: “In December, voters across Yorkshire turned away from Labour.

"The decline of industrial work is a big part of the story of Labour’s decline in many parts of the country.

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“A story about the economy and work that can bridge some of the divisions in our country will be an important part of our road to recovery.”

She found that despite sectors like care, retail, and many of our public services playing key roles in our communities, workers are often under-appreciated and have suffered from worsening pay and conditions.

Ms Reeves has called for the creation of Royal Colleges in sectors such as social care to make sure the status and expertise of workers is recognised and to give them a role in shaping best practice and improving standards.

She said Labour needs an industrial strategy which puts improving work, wages and productivity in sectors like care and retail at its heart combined with a renewed focus on lifelong learning and childcare.

She said: “The Government repeatedly point towards the number of people in employment.

“But this masks the real story: of a productivity crisis, on the one hand, and on the other of an increasingly raw deal for workers – stagnant and low pay, high insecurity, poor training and progression, and poor work-life balance.

“Increasingly, people in the UK are working more; but they are working more to keep their quality of life standing still.”

Neil Derrick, GMB Regional Secretary, described the recommendations as “vital”.

He said: “People’s working lives have undergone huge change in the past few years -and for too many people that change is not for the better.

“Full employment’ in 2020 means having three jobs just to make ends meet.

“Job security is almost a nostalgic throwback to a different time, while underemployment is the blight on our society that unemployment used to be.”

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