TUC chief's warning to firms

‘No hiding place’ for poor practices says O’Grady

Sports Direct USCTUC boss Frances O’Grady will today use the controversy around Sports Direct to warn employers exploiting their staff that there will be “no hiding place”.

She will tell delegates at the annual Congress that securing a better deal for the retailer’s employees is just the start of rooting out poor practices.

Unite’s campaign led to an end to zero-hours contracts, no more ‘six strikes and out’, “and at long last the chance to get agency workers onto permanent contracts. A proper win for workers,” she will say.

“Of course, it’s not over yet. Sports Direct may be in the spotlight now, but they are not the only ones. There are other big companies that bring shame on our country. So let me give fair warning to any greedy business that treats its workers like animals – we will shine a light on you.

“Run a big brand with a dirty little secret? A warehouse of people paid less than the minimum wage? A fleet of couriers who are slaves to an app? Let me put you on notice.

“There will be no hiding place. We will organise and we will win. Britain’s unions will not rest until every worker gets the fair treatment they deserve.”

Her comments follow a report that the Wetherspoons pub chain is to replace zero-hours contracts with contracts that provide guaranteed minimum hours of work.

“We hope that other employers follow suit. The success of the Wetherspoons trial proves that businesses can be successful without zero-hours contracts,” she said.

On the future for trade unions, she will tell delegates today: “A big challenge facing our movement is how we win back all those people in towns where, when the big factories left, unions went with them.

“”want unions to get back into those communities. To show that we listen, and we’ve learned. That we understand, and we care. That the hopes of people in towns across the UK are our hopes. That we want what they want.

“Now we have to take trade unionism back into those towns. We must win a better deal for communities where too many jobs are rubbish jobs. Jobs done by decent people who work hard and deserve better.

“The watchword of our Campaign Plan is ‘Building Back Stronger’. That’s what we must do. Building a union movement in touch with the everyday lives of working people. Reflecting their concerns, talking their language, and being alongside them in their communities, in their workplaces, and on digital too.”

She will say that working people should not pay the price for the Brexit decision and will tell delegates that the TUC’s priority is retaining jobs that come with being a member of the single market.

“Whether you voted Leave or Remain, now the vote is over our job is to get the best deal possible for working people. We must build a Britain that is successful, prosperous and fair – a Britain of great jobs for everyone.

“Government must be ready to step in and work to keep the advantages we get from membership of the single market – for all of our industries, not just the City. That’s the key to a successful Brexit for working people.”

The TUC is today publishing a report Taking the temperature of the post-Brexit economy. The report includes new economic analysis, along with the first insights from a new TUC panel of trade union convenors working at major private sector employers that are likely to be affected by Brexit.

Amber Rudd 2Separately, the SNP has said that Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s admission that UK citizens may need visas to travel to the EU “exposes the serious threat that Brexit poses to an important freedom we have long taken for granted”.

Comments by Ms Rudd (right), made on the BBC Andrew Marr programme, follows remarks made by Brexit Secretary David Davis and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox last week on the UK’s membership of the single market and UK businesses. These were later dismissed by the Prime Minister as “personal views” that did not represent government policy.

Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s Europe spokesperson, said: “This admission from the Home Secretary that people travelling from the UK to the EU may require a visa will shock many and exposes the serious threat that Brexit poses to an important freedom we have long taken for granted. It also betrays, once again, the Tories’ complete lack of a plan when it comes to Brexit.

“The ability to travel, live, work and study freely anywhere in the EU is something that we have all got used to and taken advantage of in recent decades.

“It is a huge bonus for Scotland’s economy and culture and was no doubt one of the many positives of EU membership that led to the people of Scotland voting overwhelmingly to remain in Europe.

“Visa-free travel also offers a range of benefits to businesses across the UK .

“But with Brexit Secretary David Davis suggesting that the UK would be unable to stay in the single market – the largest trading bloc in the world – and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox saying UK business executives are “too lazy and fat” to go after exports, it is clear that the Tories have no idea how best to promote and support our businesses overseas.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to protect Scotland’s place in the EU and UK Government ministers would do well to heed their example by working in the best interests of voters instead of threatening to introduce cumbersome visas for European travel.  

“Theresa May must now confirm whether these comments are simply Amber Rudd’s personal opinion or if they do reflect government policy.”

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