May 1 is a public holiday in 82 countries around the world. The UK government doesn’t recognise it and overall we have fewer public holidays than most European nations, forcing people in this country to work harder and longer.
International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is celebrated worldwide on May 1 to remember the struggles of the labour movement in the past and the present. In particular it’s held to commemorate four activists who were executed in 1886 in Chicago for daring to fight for an 8-hour working day. Ever since it has been marked by marches and other activities around the country and I’m delighted to say I’ll be taking part in our march in Lancaster on Saturday.
We still have a long way to go to improve worker’s rights in this country. Amongst the changes Labour would introduce would be ending the 1% pay cap in public-sector organisations because public-sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.
Labour would give all workers equal rights from their first day of employment, regardless of whether they were full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary. We would ban zero hours contracts, guaranteeing every worker a minimum number of paid hours. Labour would also strengthen the law so that those who work short hours for more than 12 weeks on a regular basis will have the right to a regular contract which reflects those hours.
Unions would be given access to workplaces to speak to members and potential members and all workers would have the right to trade union representation at work.
Crucially we would raise the minimum wage to the level of the ‘living wage’, expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020. This would apply to all workers aged 18 or over. We would also legislate to ensure that employers recruiting workers from abroad do not undercut workers at home.
An issue close to home for me at present is maternity and paternity rights – we would increase paternity leave to four weeks and paternity pay would also go up.
If you want to see improved workers’ rights why not come and celebrate International Workers Day with us on Saturday? Everyone will meet at 11.30am at Dalton Square. I look forward to seeing you there!