Jobs and a living wage - policies in detail

The loss of jobs that has gone with mismanagement of an unsustainable economic model is a criminal waste of talent and aspiration, and has turned life into a daily struggle for survival for millions of our fellow citizens.

As top bankers continue to pocket your money in the form of unearned bonuses, factories, firms and farms are forced to lay off more and more workers by the day, week and month.

This must end. Our major and immediate priority is the creation of an extra millionjobs and training places within a full year of operation of our major investment plan, the Green New Deal. This would address both the employment and the environmental problems.

It would consist of a package of measures, including workforce training, investment in renewables, public transport, insulation, social housing and waste management.

We would also:

  • Offer Green workforce training and an environmental community programme including training courses for jobs in energy conservation and renewable energy, with grant-funded conversion courses for skilled engineers from other industries. We would spend £5bn in the next year on creating 350,000 training places, offering opportunities to 700,000 unemployed people, in  particular the young unemployed.
  • Work towards a 35-hour working week. Full time UK employees work the longest average hours in Europe: 43.5 hours, as against 38.2 in France and 39.9 in Germany. A 35-hour week will both improve the work/life balance, help to share out work, and be part of a just transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Resist any weakening of the Working Time Directive.
  • Promote gender equality. The pay gap per hour between men and women remains as high as 38% for part-time workers; retired women’s incomes are typically 40% less than men’s. Our policies on Citizen’s Pension, childcare and non-discrimination at work will help to fill these gaps.
  • Introduce equal pay audits for larger employers
  • Promote legal changes to make it much easier for women to take equal pay cases to court, and to allow women to take such cases as a group.
  • Require 40% of board members of larger companies to be female within five years.
  • Introduce more generous maternity and paternity leave.
  • Spend £1bn a year on enhancing and expanding Sure Start Children’s Centres, creating 10,000 jobs. Sure Start has been proved to make a real difference to the lives of some of our poorest children.
  • Support a National Minimum Wage that is a living wage, at 60% of net national average earnings (currently this would mean a minimum wage of £8.10 per hour). This policy will lead to an estimated saving of up to £6bn a year in Tax Credits, and further savings not quantified here on Council Tax and Housing Benefits.
  • Work towards ensuring that the maximum wage in any organisation is no more than ten times the minimum wage in that organisation.
  • Ensure that no one is forced to retire before they want to.
  • Reject workfare and forcing unemployed people into unsuitable jobs by removing benefits.
  • Radically increase the amounts people on benefits can earn, perhaps to the equivalent of 6 hours work at the minimum wage (‘earnings disregards’), without having their benefits withdrawn. Participating honestly in such part-time work is the best route back into employment.
  • Uphold the right to join or form a trade union, to obtain union representation and to take industrial action, and repeal anti-trade union laws.
  • Support unions in their roles as health and safety and environment representatives.
  • Ensure that workers’ rights apply to part-time, casual workers and the self-employed, and from the first day of employment.
  • Oppose discrimination in the workplace, whether on the on grounds of sex, race, family status or responsibilities, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief or age.
  • Value and protect carers, and volunteers.
  • Support moves towards workplace democracy and ensure that workers and former workers control their pension funds.
  • Support a greater role for mutuals, like worker co-operatives. In particular, prevent further existing mutuals from being changed into companies, consider returning Northern Rock to the mutual sector and introduce a process whereby in certain circumstances an organisation can be turned into a mutual if its workers or customers wish to do so. A first application for this latter process would be football clubs.

Small business policies:

  • Simplify PAYE by aligning the lower National Insurance limit with the personal allowance and abolishing the upper limit.
  • In the long run, aim to merge National Insurance into Income Tax.
  • Make it illegal for a contract with a selfemployed person to imply a pay rate below the national minimum wage.
  • Amend planning laws to allow appropriate small businesses to operate in residential areas and ensure all large new retail developments include spaces for small local businesses.
  • Help small businesses cope with regulation and provide tailored advice on energy efficiency.
  • Introduce a network of local community banks, which will provide, among other things, a new source of finance for small businesses.
  • Use our proposals to revitalise the Post Office network, in particular to help small businesses.
  • Provide special help for small rural businesses.
  • Introduce legislation to penalise late payment.
  • Reduce corporation tax for small firms to 20%.

Green councillors earn fairer rents deal for seafront traders

After Conservative-led Brighton & Hove City Council hiked rent and other costs for many seafront businesses, members of the Seafront Business Association asked local Green Councillors for help.

Through a Freedom of Information request Green Councillors revealed a council deal with private chartered surveyors, who would receive a commission of 30 per cent on any rent increase they could negotiate with the seafront traders, on top of their fixed fee.

As a result, the assessment of the majority of seafront rents has now been handed to a new in-house team; the result should be fairer rents for traders.