Leonard to lay out need for shift in balance of workplace power

The Scottish Labour leader will tell his party conference in Dundee later today [Saturday] that Labour will work "industrially and politically" to get back into government. 

Richard Leonard will focus heavily on workers rights in his second address to Scottish Labour's Dundee conference as party leader, and will call for a shift in the balance of power in the workplace. 

Leonard, who was a long serving trade union official before becoming an MSP, will also say Scottish Labour cannot rely on an "automatic disillusionment with the SNP" to bring about the real change that is needed, but must fight for it. 

Addressing the changing reality of the workplace in 2019, and the so called "gig economy", Leonard will argue that only Labour has a "progressive agenda for workers’ rights". 

On the recent job losses facing Dundee from the closure of Michelin and McGills, Leonard will say: "Let me start with the Michelin workers in this city, who I met at the factory just a few weeks ago.

"They told me that Michelin did not close the factory, the market closed the factory.

"Our message to them is that you have the 100% support of the Scottish Labour Party."

Adding: "A few weeks ago I met workers in Dundee who were employed by McGills, who told me they had been let down: badly let down by the company’s bank which foreclosed an overdraft and badly let down by the Scottish Government, which could have stepped in to rescue these jobs, but who sat back.

"This is a city where decent industrious people have been let down by the failed economic system, where too much power rests in too few hands. Often in faraway boardrooms."

Laying out Scottish Labour's "progressive agenda for workers’ rights", he will say:

"We will challenge the gig economy, which is about profitable companies dumping their costs on workers.

"Look at umbrella companies, common in the construction industry, which externalise all their expenses: training, national insurance and pensions.

"The SNP tell us we shouldn’t talk about workers’ rights because they are reserved. But these practices are commonplace on public contracts funded by the Scottish Government.

"Which is why it is about time that we had a Scottish Government that was prepared to use its powers, including through public procurement to drive up employment standards and working practices on these contracts to build our hospitals, to build our roads, and to build our railway infrastructure.”

On Labour being in government again, Leonard will say: “We cannot rely on an automatic disillusionment with the SNP to do the job for us. There is no iron law, there is no inevitability.

"But if we work for it, industrially and politically, we can achieve it. Because I tell you that we make our own history.

"We are getting back to where we always should have been, the party of communities and the party of workers.”



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