Exclusive: Labour dismantles allegations re employment practices

Earlier today, the LabourList site published an ‘exclusive comment piece’ – and a comment piece on the comment piece – claiming that Labour employees are on insecure contracts, sometimes have to use foodbanks or payday lenders and are sometimes asked to work overtime at short notice.

ll staff

In the follow-up comment piece, LabourList editor Sienna Rodgers said:

Although Labour says its workplace is unionised and the party recognises Unite and the GMB for collective bargaining purposes, LabourList understands that employees have been involved in a protracted dispute with management that is yet to be resolved.

The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot tweeted about the ‘really powerful piece’ – but even a cursory fact-check portrays a very different story.

The article notes that Labour had responded that it pays its staff no less than £10 an hour and has no zero hour contracts – and an update shows that general secretary Jennie Formby tweeted similarly:

However, the SKWAWKBOX has received further information from a senior Labour source that not only casts doubt on the truthfulness of the original comment piece but casts it as a politically-motivated hatchet-job.

The source told the SKWAWKBOX:

We have no zero hours contracts and after Jennie started as general secretary in April she gave everyone a pay-rise from the national minimum wage to £10 an hour, effective from 1 May – and staff will get another pay-rise in January when the trade unions negotiate their annual increase.

Of course we have some people on flexible contracts – it’s the nature of political work. But if you’re on a 12-hour contract are we supposed to put them all up to 34 hours?

But the main point is that no member of staff has raised these issues with us, nor have either of the unions.

It’s simple – if you have a grievance, take it up through your union and we’ll talk to you. I suspect there’s a political motivation behind the story and LabourList didn’t bother to put anything from us in the first article rebutting what is alleged.

LabourList’s editor, Sienna Rodgers, has been contacted for comment and asked whether the original comment-piece was fact-checked. She has not yet responded.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Conference season has been relatively quiet in terms of smears on the Labour Party – especially after the SKWAWKBOX exposed planned disruption of Labour’s conference well before it could be carried out – but today has seen two new, separate and equally ill-founded attacks by the Labour right given credence by the media.

First, an attack on the vital unity between members and unions, in the form of an hit-piece on Chris Williamson in the Huffington Post – and then in these easily-disproven attacks on the Labour Party as an employer.

Normal service has been resumed – but as usual the misrepresentations don’t stand up to scrutiny.

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  1. So the right wing waits until its man McNicol has been replaced to accuse his replacement of underpaying employees despite the obvious conclusion that if it happened at all it must have begun on McNicol’s watch.
    What kind of idiots are these people to think a contraption like that will fly?

  2. ‘Fact-checked’ me arse. I don’t remember them piping up when umunna wanted unpaid interns.

  3. Good to see Jennie Formby’s reply. Labour List under Sienna Rodgers is much less inclusive than it was when run by Peter Edwards. Labour has always employed lots of short term workers at election times. So do all other parties. But it won’t do to rubbish some of the claims made in the article, such as need for food banks and people not knowing what their hours will be. The blame for them lies with Iain McNicol and his prdecessors, not the left. Labour needs to treat its workers properly. Otherwise how can we tell other employers to?

  4. Even before these pay rises in 2018, the average pay of Labour Party staff doesn’t seem too stingy. From the 2017 accounts it seems the average annual wage/salary of a full-time Labour employee was £44.4k in 2017, up 4.5% from £42.5k in 2016 (excluding pension costs on top, and assuming part-time employees work half time). A lot of these will be London wages, but as an average this doesn’t seem stingy.

    “senior management” got £584k in 2017, but unfortunately the accounts don’t say how many employees this is, so we cannot work out non-senior average pay exactly. If we assume there are 8 senior management, then 2017 average for the rest works out at £43.8k, not much lower.

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