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The leadership blogs - Yvette Cooper

I believe deeply in Labour’s continued relationship with the Trade Union movement.  As the granddaughter of a miner and the daughter of a Trade Unionist, I know the essential role of unions to protect and advance the rights of workers.

When my mum went to work it was still legal to pay women less – our Trade Unions changed that.  I was proud to be part of a government that brought back Trade Union rights to GCHQ. As Leader of the Labour Party, I want a strong on-going relationship between Labour and the unions.

I am appalled by the Tories’ ideologically driven attack on our movement.  As Leader, I will do everything I can to fight it.  The Trade Union Bill puts narrow Tory party interests ahead of what is right for the country. It not only undermines years of progress on workers rights but it also breaks the growing consensus on the need to reform funding of political parties

The legislation seeks to pit workers against employers and will make it harder for successful conclusions to be reached when there are disputes.  It is another example of the Tories employing cheap divide and rule tactics. Trade unions have a real and constructive role to play in the future of working people and to build the economy Britain needs to thrive. Labour must do all it can to stop these divisive and damaging measures from coming into force.

I want to bring fairness back into the workplace and give people the confidence and security in work they deserve. This means scrapping the Governments punitive tribunal fees and putting pressure on the Government to publish their report into this unfair system.  We need to reverse the two-year qualification for unfair dismissal rules and Labour should lend support to good employers who want to see an end to malpractice.

The Labour Party and Trade Unions have worked together for over a century to advance women’s equality.  I want to work with Trade Unions in a shared mission to end maternity discrimination for good.  For too many women starting a family is finishing their career. I was the first Government Minister to take maternity leave – and know from experience that some people are more supportive than others.

More than 60% of women have said they faced discrimination after becoming pregnant.  That is deeply unfair and bad for the economy because skilled and talented women employees are pushed out.  We need stronger laws against maternity discrimination - but we also need to make it easier for the law to be enforced.

I want to work with unions to create the high skilled, high productivity jobs of the future.  I have set an ambition for the UK economy – public and private – of 3% GDP investment in science, research and development – including cutting edge green technologies. This could help us deliver 2 million more manufacturing jobs. 

Above all, Labour needs to offer an optimistic vision for the future.

One rooted in our values, but is hard-headed and credible. One that sets out a vision for growth and shared prosperity, where our nation becomes fairer and less divided, with security in the workplace and the high-skilled jobs our country needs.

It is no use just shouting from the sidelines. It is no use being angry about the world. We’re Labour, we have to change the world.  Let’s work together and make sure we defeat the Tories and win again in 2020.

Yvette Cooper is one of four candidates standing to be the next Labour leader which will be chosen by Labour Party members and affiliate supporters. If your trade union supports Labour you can sign-up to vote here for free http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/our_voice.

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