Labour will knit our values of equality into the economy and the future of work

Marsha de Cordova

As we emerge from the pandemic, we face a great moment for our country, where we can shape a more secure, resilient and equal future for all. Labour’s new deal for working people is about fundamentally changing the economy to make Britain the best place to work.

Too many people went into the pandemic amid deepening inequalities with too few savings, in insecure work, without the resilient public services they need, and after the foundations of our economy were weakened by years of Conservative cuts. As we hopefully head into a recovery, a fairer economy shaped by Labour would provide secure, quality well-paid jobs paid – and it would fire on all cylinders.

We have already begun to lay out how we’d drive it forward – by buying, making and selling more in Britain – to help our businesses to thrive, our high streets to prosper and for all people to get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. When we look at creating the good work and good jobs that people rightly expect, we have to consider: how do we ensure that work is a dignified and respectful space that allows all to meet their potential?

These values of equality are deeply entwined into our Labour history, and that’s why we will knit them into our economy, the future of work and the quality jobs we will create as a Labour government. In my role, that starts with us continuing to call on the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for all firms with over 250 employees.

We have seen with gender pay gap reporting how data really is one of key components for tackling inequality: understanding the size and shape of the pay gap will help us target policies to close the gap and end race inequality at work. Where Labour is in power, we are already doing this, with Labour mayors putting ethnicity pay gap reporting in place in London and Bristol, and the Welsh Labour government leading the way in the Senedd.

As Baroness Lawrence’s review “An Avoidable Crisis” showed, the impact of Covid-19 has been disproportionate on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. She rightly noted that the pandemic must be a turning point when it comes to racial disparities, writing: “We have heard enough talk from the government. It is now time to act. We created this system; we need to fix it.”

It is also critical that the government acts to end sexual harassment in the workplace, which continues to affect one in two women and seven in ten disabled women, according to the TUC. Recently, the government committed to action on sexual harassment but we need to see them deliver on this. As we return to workplaces across the country, we cannot see a return to business as usual when it comes to workplace harassment.

A Labour government would tackle this head on as part of our commitment for an equal recovery, along with a number of other measures including a ban making pregnant women redundant during pregnancy and maternity leave, publishing disaggregated data on job creation schemes and reviewing the failing childcare and shared parental leave systems.

Workplace respect and dignity must be front and centre of our new world of work. It’s time for a culture change across Britain: for too long, good secure jobs have been in decline while inequality has proliferated at work. As we emerge from a difficult 18 months, it’s time to take some of the positives into the future of work and for getting our economy firing on all cylinders.

We know what works to create a fairer future of work for all. It’s time the government follows suit and prioritises equality, dignity and respect for all workers, as a Labour government would.

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