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Wales must enforce labour rights, says TUC

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A study published by the Trades Union Congress found 58% of Welsh workers think workers need better protection from unfair exploitation.

Over half (55%) of Welsh workers would support a ban on zero-hours contracts.

The report urges investment into labour market enforcement: “Wales does not have to passively accept the UK’s threadbare labour rights enforcement system. 

“We should better coordinate devolved agencies in this area, work more closely with non-devolved agencies, and strategically invest to transform the enforcement approach in Wales.”


Read more: Workers unaware of zero-hours contracts rights


Average weekly earnings for full-time adults working in Wales is £598.10, compared with £640 in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Meanwhile, one in nine workers in Wales are in insecure work. 

Approximately £10.45 is spent on enforcement for each worker in Wales yet the country’s capacity of inspectorate bodies ranks 27th out of the 33 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Jean Jenkins, professor of employment relations at Cardiff Business School, who wrote the report, said: “My report is an honest assessment of where workers stand in Wales in 2024.

“For far too many, their experience is characterised by insecurity, stagnant wages and a labour rights system that provides very little real protection.”   

The study found fair pay, health and safety and flexibility at work are the employment rights Welsh workers are most concerned about.

The Welsh government does not have control over employment rights, and only 45% of workers would be in favour of devolving them.


Read more: Labour market enforcement needs a single body, report finds


The TUC called for a minister for work in the Welsh government to give employees a voice in the Welsh government who can operate with authority at cabinet level. 

It also recommended investment into labour market enforcement and the development of a minimum standard of awareness of employment rights, labour market conditions and industrial relations across the devolved public sector.

Shavanah Taj, general secretary for TUC Wales, said: “Professor Jenkins’ recommendations focus on radically reshaping working life in Wales by investment in enforcement and pivoting the devolved state towards rebuilding the conditions necessary for workers to realise their basic labour rights.”

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