The Workers Union is backing the government’s new workers’ rights watchdog.
In a statement released this morning, a union spokesperson described it as a ‘huge step forward in industrial relations.’
The watchdog – which has yet to be formally named – will tackle important issues, such as protecting the rights of working people, dealing with modern slavery and enforcing minimum wage payments.
The Workers Union said: ‘We are delighted that the government has chosen to take this path. Politicians are often derided for their inability to keep their promises, but it seems that this time, there’s a clear commitment to holding exploitative employers to account.’
Under current arrangements, responsibility for policing employers is split between the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HM Revenue and Customs. The new enforcement body will centralise operations and enable information to be shared more easily.
It will also expose employers who fail to cough up staff wages – with powers available to fine them up to £20,000 per affected worker.
The business minister, Paul Scully said: ‘This government has been absolutely clear that we will do whatever we can to protect and enhance workers’ rights.
‘The vast majority of businesses want to do right by their staff, but there are a minority who seem to think the law doesn’t apply to them. Exploitative practices like modern slavery have no place in society.
‘This new workers’ watchdog will help us crack down on any abuses of workers’ rights and take action against companies that turn a blind eye to abuses in their supply chains, while providing a one-stop shop for employees and businesses wanting to understand their rights and obligations.’
The Workers Union stands up for working people
This watchdog represents an important development in the contract between working people and the state. Whereas some commentators predicted that the post-Brexit world would see the rights of workers thrown to the wind, the government has chosen to take the path less-travelled and bring extra muscle to a very real and pernicious problem.
In doing so, they have sent a strong message to dodgy employers that time is running out for them. But this, alas, is only the beginning of the story. The government must set a firm timetable for the creation of this body. They must also tackle not just the quality of employers, but the quality of jobs available to working people.
Workers want jobs, but they also want jobs that offer fulfilling careers that nurture aspiration and offer a good standard of living. That is what The Workers Union will continue to campaign for – now and in the future.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you