Labour and the past, present and future of Work

Most of us spend most of our time at work. Work is what we do, […]

Policy Brief

06/04/2022

Most of us spend most of our time at work. Work is what we do, where we go, who we know and how we get on in life. But while they might have a lot to say about salaries or employment figures, our politicians have less to offer when it comes to work itself. Left and right agree we need more ‘good jobs’ – but do we know what good jobs are?

Answering that question is a challenge, especially with the changes brought on by Covid-19 and increasing automation, but it is also a massive opportunity for social democratic and labour parties. As the parliamentary expression of organised labour, they have been successful in the past at offering both change and consensus around a changing economy and world of work. To do so again though, social democrats and labour parties need a clear, positive, vision that can engage with the hopes of workers present and past, young and old.

This vision must be optimistic, focusing on tangible future benefits. It must go beyond stale repetitions of what social democrats are against, and not be hung up on impossible promises to restore what has been lost in previous decades.

FEPS and Progressive Britain have partnered with a leading academic and trade unionist to bring you a paper that is part of building that vision – setting out how the Labour Party in the UK has grasped the politics of work in the past, the challenges of today and the electoral and moral victories than can be won should the party get it right now.

It is part of a forthcoming series of papers, workshops and blogs where FEPS and Progressive Britain will explore the policy and politics of work. The project focuses on the UK but will be informed by approaches across the European continent – from Germany’s co-determination system to the ‘Nordic model’ of collective bargaining.

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