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Labour deputy leader doubles down on workers' rights pledges after backtracking reports

Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner has doubled down on a vow to strengthen workers' rights - following reports the party had watered down its plans in a bid to court business.

The deputy leader also reiterated a commitment to introduce draft legislation within 100 days of a Labour victory to enshrine its employment promises in law.

Under a so-called new deal, Labour had pledged to bolster protections for all staff by banning zero-hours contracts, ending fire and rehire, and scrapping qualifying periods for basic benefits.

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It also included a promise to introduce a single status of "worker" to tackle bogus self-employment in the gig economy.

However, it has been reported the leadership has rowed back on some commitments as Labour seeks to position itself as the party of business ahead of the next general election.

It came as Labour appeared to have cooled over its promise to spend £28bn a year on green projects in the face of Tory attacks.

The party has also said it will not restore a cap on bankers' bonuses, arguing businesses do not need "more chopping and changing".

'The workers understand'

However, speaking to Sky's Beth Rigby, Ms Rayner insisted Labour was sticking to its plans on workers' rights.

She said: "It's security at work more than anything. Fundamentally it's rights from day one, it's ending fire and rehire, and it's giving people guaranteed hours and making sure that people have that level of security so they can plan for their life.

"Because you can't get a mortgage, you can't plan what your budgeting is going to be, if you haven't got secure work. So it's a fundamental pillar of how people can have better standards of living in the country."

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Ms Rayner added: "We will bring in the single status of worker. We will end this bogus self-employment. That is our mission as part of the new deal.

"That's what we're setting out and we will do that in conjunction and consultation through the process to ensure that we actually mean what we say and say what we mean.

"Because sometimes if you act in haste, you can create more chaos and we're not going to do that.

"So we're already in the engagement on that. Employers understand what we want to achieve. The workers understand what we're trying to achieve, and we're already working and there's already case law. And these issues are already being tackled in the economy."

'Good for business and workers'

Ms Rayner also argued there would not be a cost to business as a result of savings realised under the plan, such as fewer vacancies, reduced staff sickness and increased productivity.

She said: "This is good for business and it's good for workers."

The deputy leader added: "But we also understand that there is transition. We said that we'll put the bill before parliament in the first hundred days. We're committed to that.

"We're doing a huge amount of work with businesses now to bring them on board so they understand that some businesses have to travel more distance than others. But we're very clear that we will work with them. We will consult on things like the single category of worker so that we make sure that we bring business with us.

"But we're unequivocal and we know the benefits that this produces because the businesses that do it now are very clear that it does help their business and it does help productivity."