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Joint Statement on Watering Down of Workplace Rights

Following rumours that the Government has plans to further water down workplace rights, including rest breaks, paid holiday entitlement and time spent on-call – we’ve released a joint statement with eleven other unions.

Published: 25 January 2021 | 1:53 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Photograph of a group of musicians sitting to play. The photograph is taken from the floor, and the primary focus is on the shoes of the musicians closest to the camera.
It is unconscionable that at a time of immense loss, sadness and uncertainty for our country that the Government have prioritised drawing up these plans. Photo credit: Shutterstock

We're releasing the following joint statement together with the eleven other unions listed at the end.

Last week, rumours emerged in the Financial Times that the Government has been secretly drawing up plans to water down more of our members’ workplace rights, including on working time inclusive of time spent on-call, rest breaks and paid holiday entitlements. After initially denying the rumours, the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed this week that the rumours are true, and that the Government are in fact reviewing workplace protections.

It is unconscionable that at a time of immense loss, sadness and uncertainty for our country, when thousands of people are dying each day and we are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, that they have prioritised drawing up these plans. The Government have long promised that our rights at work would be ‘protected and enhanced’ – they simply have no mandate and no public support for ripping them up.

A loss of basic rights affects everyone. Losing these hard-won rights would lower living standards further after a decade of stagnating pay and growing insecurity, causing working people to further tighten their belts and hold back any economic recovery.

Millions of workers are already working crushingly long hours and further removing rights to rest, limits on working hours or disregarding workers time spent on-call endangers not only them, but also puts public safety at risk - no one wants their loved ones to receive care from a chronically overworked nurse or be driven home by an exhausted bus driver.

Working people are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to keep this country fed, safe, cared for and connected – keeping our country going under unimaginable pressures. With insecurity rife throughout much of our economy we believe this pandemic should be a turning point where working people should have their rights at work strengthened, not threatened. The whole of the labour movement will fight tooth and nail to protect and extend our rights.


Len McCluskey, Unite

Christina McAnea, Unison

Paddy Lillis, USDAW

Warren Kenny, GMB

Dave Ward, CWU

Manuel Cortes, TSSA

Mick Whelan, ASLEF

Roy Rickhuss, Community

Matt Wrack, FBU

Horace Trubridge, MU

Ian Hodson & Sarah Woolley, BFAWU

Chris Kitchen, NUM

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