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Keir Starmer accused of jobs ‘hypocrisy’ as 90 staff face redundancy

Diane Abbott and former members of Jeremy Corbyn’s team lashed out at new Labour policies on jobs as party staff face losing their jobs

Labour figures have accused Keir Starmer of hypocrisy after he pledged to make Britain “the best place to work” despite 90 party staff members facing redundancy.

The Labour Party has spent the week unveiling a tranche of new announcements on jobs, including pledging the same rights for all workers from direct employees to those in the gig economy.

Today Angela Rayner, the shadow secretary of state for the future of work, revealed plans to make flexible working “a force for good”.

But last week it emerged that 90 staff members faced the axe, as Labour seeks to address its poor financial situation. The party also faced criticism for hiring an agency on temporary contracts to work on the backlog of internal complaints.

On Monday, Starmer said: “Today we’re launching a campaign to make Britain the best place to work. Family incomes have stagnated, millions are in insecure work and in-work poverty is at a record high. Covid has brutally exposed the injustices that have been growing for years.”

The former Labour frontbencher, Diane Abbott, tweeted this morning: “So Keir will make Britain the best place to work – unless you work for @UKLabour. He has made 90 staff redundant. But is also recruiting workers on insecure temporary contracts with worse employment conditions #FutureOfWork”.

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A former aide to Jeremy Corbyn added to the criticisms of Keir Starmer, telling The Big Issue: “Not only is this a bad look to the electorate, which doesn’t stand for hypocrisy, but what does it say about Labour under Starmer that it treats its own workers like this?

“While at the same time, the party takes on dozens of agency staff to deal with complaints. The root of all this is chronic mismanagement from people whose brains are infested with factionalism.”

The GMB and Unite trade unions lamented a “lack of communication and consultation” over the jobs cuts in an angry letter to the party seen by the website LabourList. 

Labour has told the staff members who were asked to consider voluntary redundancy that senior staff will not be taking pay cuts, arguing their salaries are necessary to attract and retain people.

Staff have been offered three weeks of pay for every year served.

Andrew Fisher, another senior Corbyn aide who wrote the party’s 2017 manifesto, said today: “The issue here is that the Labour Party is making 90 of its own staff redundant on poor terms and without ruling out compulsory redundancies and without having consulted the unions beforehand.” 

The Labour Party did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. A party source said last week: “This is not an easy decision and we recognise it will be a very difficult time for staff and we will fully engage and consult with them and the trade unions throughout. We are reshaping our party’s operation with a view towards being fighting fit for upcoming campaigns and the next general election.”

Today, Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, pledged to make flexible working the “new normal” as she announced plans to widen the definition of flexible working and grant employers legal responsibility to accommodate it unless they can prove it is unworkable.

Earlier this week, the party unveiled plans to ensure all workers would be eligible for sick pay, holiday, parental leave and the minimum wage from their first day.

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