June 7 2017
Earlier in the election cycle the REC produced a summary of the key policy commitments from the Conservative, Labour, and Scottish National Party manifestos. To round off our coverage of the election we have highlighted some key proposals on workers’ rights, pay, immigration, Brexit, and business taxes from the other parties.
Reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid, and increase the minimum wage to reach a genuine living wage of £10 an hour by 2020. Phase in a four day working week (a maximum of 35 hours) and abolish exploitative zero hours contracts. A humane immigration and asylum system that recognises and takes responsibility for Britain’s ongoing role in causing the flow of migrants worldwide. A referendum on the detail of whatever deal is negotiated for Britain’s departure from the EU, with the option to reject the deal and remain in the EU. Protect freedom of movement, press for remaining within the single market, and safeguard vital rights for people and the environment. Ensure that everyone pays their fair share of tax and there is a crackdown on tax dodging. A phased in abolition of the cap on employees’ national insurance so that the wealthiest pay more. A Robin Hood tax on high value transactions in the finance sector, and inheritance taxed according to the wealth of the recipient.
Establish an independent review to consult on how to set a genuine living wage across all sectors. Pay this living wage in all central government departments and their agencies, and encourage other public-sector employers to do likewise. Stamp out abuse of zero-hours contracts. We will create a formal right to request a fixed contract and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time. Hold an annual debate in parliament on skill and labour market shortfalls and surpluses to identify the migration necessary to meet the UK’s needs. Remove students from the official migration statistics. Ensure the UK is an attractive destination for overseas students. Reinstate post-study work visas for graduates in STEM subjects who find suitable employment within six months of graduating. Press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK. Modernise employment rights to make them fit for the age of the gig economy, looking to build on the forthcoming Taylor report. Strengthen enforcement of employment rights, including by bringing together relevant enforcement agencies and scrapping employment tribunal fees. Review Business Rates to reduce burdens on small firms, and make them the priority for any future business tax cuts.
Ensure that £4.3 billion in public sector contracts are spent in Wales and introduce a real, independently verified, Living Wage. Create a Welsh Migration Advisory Service so that there is a system that suits Wales’s needs. Welsh-specific visas are necessary to plug skills gaps and to protect our health service from staff shortages. International students must be taken out of net migration targets. Guarantee the rights of all Europeans currently living and working in Wales. Push for targeted tax discounts for new and existing businesses in Wales as a central part of the new UK Regional Policy. Demand that Wales has the power to set its own rates of tax including Corporation Tax, Air Passenger Duty and VAT.
Enforce the minimum and living wage and reverse government cuts to the number of minimum wage inspectors in England and Wales. Significantly tighten up rules on zero hours contracts and severely limit their use. Establish a Migration Control Commission and set a target to reduce net migration to zero, over a five-year period. Make immigration fair and equitable by introducing a new Australian-style points based system, and a work permit system. Both will apply equally to all applicants, save for citizens of the Republic of Ireland, with whom we will maintain our current arrangements. Give working class people in particular a chance to find employment by placing a moratorium on unskilled and low-skilled immigration for five years after we leave the EU. Allow law-abiding EU citizens living in the UK before Article 50 was triggered the right to stay here indefinitely and expect the same concession to be granted to British citizens living overseas within the EU. EU nationals who entered the UK after 29th March 2017 will not have the automatic right to remain and when we leave the EU will lose access to all benefits, including non-urgent healthcare. Protect workers’ rights once we have left the EU. Leaving the EU must not usher in any kind of ‘race to the bottom’ on employment rights. Stand up for Britain’s 4.8 million self-employed people. There will be no quarterly tax returns, and no increase in Class IV National Insurance or taxes for our self-employed strivers. Aim to keep taxes and red-tape to the minimum necessary.
The REC View
The REC understands that one of the key drivers for flexible working is individual choice. Any government should not limit people’s ability to work in different ways, but ensure they are making an informed choice. With all proposed changes to taxation we seek clarity and a level playing field for businesses of all sizes, whilst ensuring any changes do not discourage our flexible labour market.
We fully support that everyone should be paid fairly for a job well done. But it is also crucial that increases to the minimum wage are brought in gradually, and the increases are based on the objective recommendations of the Low Pay Commission.
On immigration, we want to see a system that creates prosperity and growth for the whole of the UK by supporting our dynamic, open and inclusive jobs market. As a lack of skilled staff in key sectors is a major barrier to economic growth, we think it’s important that whoever forms the next government recognises that we will still need to access people from across the EU to fill vacancies which cannot be filled by the UK workforce. In order to keep the UK an attractive place to work for skilled non-EEA migrants, the UK Visas and Immigration process must be kept as simple and as inexpensive as possible. Our members also want clear directives from the government about the status of EU nationals currently working in the UK, and British people working in Europe, as soon as possible.
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