Rachel Reeves MP

Member of Parliament for Leeds West

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Rachel's article for the Mirror on improving working life

We spend a third of our waking hours at work. A job is about much more than simply clocking time. Our jobs influence who we are, how we feel, where we live, and whom we know, as well as our ability to manage and enjoy our lives outside work. Whether you spend your day at a desk, behind a till or on a building site, everyone wants a secure job which pays a decent wage.

But far too many people are stuck in low-paid and insecure jobs. While previous generations expected to be better off than their parents, this can no longer be taken for granted.

Today a major inquiry into how to improve working life in Britain is being launched by the Smith Institute. Its goal is to start a national conversation about how to tackle insecurity, low pay and how we can create better jobs.

This inquiry matters because insecurity has got worse, not better under the Tories. Surveys show workers are less secure and more pressured at work than at any time in the past 20 years. The proportion of employees who are worried about losing their job is higher than at any point since 1986.

Under David Cameron there are now more people in poverty who have jobs than those who don’t, and this is driving up the costs of social security, with taxpayers picking up the tab. Meanwhile millions of people are finding it harder to make ends meet as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

A Labour government would move to tackle insecurity and low pay. We would take tough action on zero hours contracts, enforce the minimum wage and get more employers to pay A living wage through tax breaks. We would introduce a Basic Skills Test to make sure all jobseekers have basic English, maths and IT skills and a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to give the long-term unemployed a job. These measures will help us earn our way out of the Tories' cost-of-living crisis.

I hope employees and employers across Britain and their representatives join the conversation started by this new inquiry about the world of work. None of us can afford to keen going on David Cameron's race to the bottom which only succeeds in making people work ever-longer hours for less.

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