Long-Bailey: “I’ll put trade unions at the heart of Labour’s path to power”

Sienna Rodgers

Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey has promised to “put trade unions at the heart of Labour’s path to power” and “back workers in every dispute and strike” if elected as Jeremy Corbyn’s successor.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Sheffield on Friday evening, the MP for Salford and Eccles will set out plans to reinvigorate the wider labour movement via mass recruitment of trade unionists – particularly in seats lost by Labour in December.

Long-Bailey will say: “Under my leadership, Labour will launch a mass trade union membership drive, supporting hundreds of thousands of young activists who have been inspired by our party to become trade unionists at work.

“Ensuring our movement’s community and workplace organising go hand in hand, I’ll also commission a trade union recruitment plan targeted in Red Wall seats in which we need to rebuild.

“Working people across all of Labour’s heartlands, from the seats we lost to our city strongholds, face the same conditions of insecurity, informal contracts, and low pay.

“A trade union membership drive can help rebuild the labour movement’s institutions – and with it renew the bonds of solidarity and common interest that can unite working people everywhere. That’s our path to power.

“I would ensure the trade union movement grows by over a million members across a first term in government, as workplace freedoms, a green industrial revolution, and our organising agenda reverses the long term decline. Without strong trade unions, we can’t build a socialist future.”

Appearing on BBC Breakfast on Friday morning, Long-Bailey that she would focus on putting an end to “24/7 work culture” by taking inspiration from new laws introduced in France, Italy and the Philippines where employees have been given the right to ‘switch off’.

Linking these proposals to her broader campaign theme of “aspirational socialism”, the leadership hopeful will advocate “coming together to collectively solve issues that are damaging our mental health and stopping us getting quality time with our families or in our communities”.

“We can all do better with aspirational socialism, through pushing for an end to the 24/7 work culture, and with trade unions empowered to negotiate this, we can work hard, be paid for the work we do and keep that precious time with our friends and family, uninterrupted by emails or demands.”

Long-Bailey will vow to take forward Labour’s existing policies to repeal anti-trade union legislation and replace with new rights and freedoms for workers, saying: “Working people exercising their right to organise together can better the lives of tens of millions of people and transform our society.”

The window for local party and affiliate nominations in Labour’s leadership election will close on February 14th, with ballots being sent out from February 24th. Voting is set to end on April 2nd and results will be announced at a special conference on April 4th.

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