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COVID-19 and Workers' Rights: Building A Progressive Future
A lecture from Professor Keith Ewing, King's College London; President of the Institute of Employment Rights
The looming economic depression will shatter any remaining illusions about the adequacy of our neo-liberal labour law for the protection of workers' rights. As the editor of The Lancet has pointed out ‘Covid-19 has revealed, exploited, and accentuated deep socio-economic and racial disparities in the UK'.
Yet free market capitalism continues to be seen by some as the solution to the problems exposed by Covid-19 rather than their cause. According to the recently replaced Chancellor of the Exchequer, the ‘free market’ is ‘the only way to revive our economy’, and that ‘once this pandemic has passed, we can’t allow the Left to win the argument on wealth creation'.
It is thus clear that the future of workers' rights is about to be hotly contested. This lecture will consider the need for a progressive alternative, and what such an alternative would look like in practice. In particular, the lecture will explore the role of the State in protecting workers' rights, and the enhanced role for trade unions in representing workers' interests.