Delegates at the Co-operative Party conference in Cardiff looked at ways to build a shared economy in a world where workers’ rights are facing ever growing threats.
Liv Bailey, from the left-wing think tank the Fabian Society, told the conference workers were facing three serious challenges.
The first, automation, will continue to pose a great risk to jobs in the middle tier and leave workers behind, she warned.
The second worrying trend is the stagnation of wages, said Ms Bailey, which is determined by the country’s low productivity. This, she argued, should be addressed through investment.
The third change is the shift away from working for big companies, she said, with self-employment rates growing by one million since the year 2000, she said.
“We need to find new ways to embed workers’ rights at work,” she added, pointing out that the sharing economy brings with it insecurity.
Ms Bailey also warned that Brexit could put workers’ rights at risk once EU employment legislation is no longer in force, leaving a vacuum.
“The left must develop an alternative and empower those who wanted to take back control,” she said. “The labour movement has a history in finding opportunities in crisis.”
She welcomed the Co-operative Party’s policy document, which includes a summary of party policy on building a shared economy.
One delegate from Manchester noted that while most policies would be achieved with a Labour government in power, many recommendations could be implemented at local level.
He gave examples of credit unions and local enterprises making a difference in their communities.
Paul Monaghan from the Fair Tax Mark, who was also on the panel, highlighted the importance to an equal society of companies paying their fair share of tax.
“I’ve got no more to ask the Co-operative Party to do from Fair Tax Mark – just maintain momentum,” he said. “Large plcs will be competing on this and you’ll be regretting not doing it before them.
“We need to stand up to make the case for fair tax.”
MP Seema Malhotra talked about social division and the need for a co-operative solution. Advances in technology could be a driver of rising inequality, poverty and insecurity, she said.
A former management consultant, Ms Malhotra founded the Fabian Women’s Network and has served as national chair of the Young Fabians.
She was shadow minister for preventing violence against women and girls under Ed Miliband and shadow chief secretary to the treasury in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet until resigning in June 2016.
In this article
- Co-operative Party
- co-operative solution
- Dissolution of the Soviet Union
- Economic stagnation
- Economy of the Soviet Union
- Era of Stagnation
- European Union
- Fabian Society
- Jeremy Corbyn
- Labour government
- Leonid Brezhnev
- Liv Bailey
- Natasha Hirst
- national chair
- Paul Monaghan
- Political philosophy
- Seema Malhotra
- shadow minister
- Social Issues
- Soviet phraseology
- United Kingdom
- Top Stories
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