Labour was accused last night of trying to take Britain back to the 1970s with plans to massively boost union power.
Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted to give state officials the right to enter workplaces and prosecute bosses. The worst offenders could even be sent to prison.
The Labour leader told the TUC he would deliver the biggest extension of workers’ rights ever seen if he won the next general election.
Zero-hours contracts would be banned and a workers’ protection agency set up to rein in ‘bad’ employers.
The radical plans were unveiled as official figures showed that wages are growing at their fastest for a decade and unemployment is at its lowest level since 1974.Mr Corbyn pledged to revive collective bargaining, a policy that once led to widespread industrial strife. The Tories said that Labour’s plans would mean a return to the wildcat strikes and flying pickets of the 1970s.
Business chiefs at the CBI warned the radical proposals would damage the economy.
The row came as Union firebrand Len McCluskey warned Boris Johnson that workers were ‘coming for you’ to achieve better pay and conditions.
Speaking to the TUC conference in Brighton yesterday, Mr Corbyn compared company bosses to ‘dictators’. He said: ‘Why should democracy end when you walk into work? Why should the place where you spend most of your day sometimes feel like a dictatorship?
‘In the next few weeks the Establishment will come after us with all they’ve got, because they know we’re not afraid to take them on.
‘We’re going after the tax avoiders. We’re going after the bad employers. We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the big polluters destroying our climate. Because we know whose side we’re on.’
Mr Corbyn said Labour’s proposed ministry for employment rights, headed by a Cabinet minister, would be responsible for delivering a huge expansion of individual and collective rights at work.
The workers’ protection agency would be tasked with enforcing the law and ensuring that all employees receive the proper rights and protections.
It would be given wide-ranging powers to inspect workplaces and bring prosecutions and civil actions on behalf of staff. There would be tougher penalties for defying court orders.
A Labour government would also introduce collective bargaining across industrial sectors by establishing councils of worker and employer representatives.
The councils would guarantee legal minimum requirements on pay, working hours, recruitment and grievance processes.