Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Trade Union Questionnaire


Section1: Trade Unions & the Link

Can you tell us a little bit about your history in the Labour movement?

How do you see the future of the relationship between the Labour Party and the unions?

How do you think the Labour Party can help trade unions grow?  

What are your thoughts on the Hayden Philips review into Party Funding?

What should the Labour Party/Labour Government do with contemporary motions that are passed at Labour Conference?

As a civil rights lawyer in the 1970s, I was legal advisor to the strike committee for equal pay at TRICO and the 2 year long battle for Union recognition at Grunwick. I also look some of the early pioneering equal pay and sex discrimination claims through the courts.

While Labour was in opposition, as Shadow Employment Secretary, I crafted our strategy to deliver the national minimum wage, embedding it in our national life so that no Government could ever repeal it.

Working with women in the party and trade unions, I led the battle to change the agenda and image of what was a male-dominated Labour and trade union movement. In a joint project with the textile union, KFAT, ‘Mothers in Manufacturing,’ we brought home how difficult life was for women struggling on poverty pay with no childcare or family-friendly rights. Big advances were won, with the National Childcare Strategy for which I, working with Labour movement women, was responsible for and with new workplace rights on family-friendly flexibility, maternity and paternity.

Together with all women shortlists, which I championed and which transformed the face of the PLP, that led to our winning a majority of women to vote Labour for the first time in history. That support, which cannot now be taken for granted as Cameron mounts his pitch on gender and the family, is vital to Labour staying in power.


Vital! The Trade Unions are our roots in the world of work. The link is an expression of common values. For working people, their access to power is their union card and their right to vote.

The link must now be strengthened at all levels. I want to see many more work places represented in Constituency Labour Parties and more trade union activists becoming Councillors and MPs. Why not also a year’s free membership for all young trade unionists to boost participation of young people in the Labour Party?

Help Grow

First, by arguing why Trade Unions are vital in the world of work. Then, by strengthening the right to Union recognition and protection against dismissal for being a Trade Unionist. By introducing a right of access for Unions organising and recruiting. And we should use contract compliance to ensure trade union rights are insisted on when we let tens of billions of public contracts. Taxpayers’ money should not go to employers who deny to their employees the right to be in a union and represented by their union.

Hayden Philips

The link is not the problem. The relationship with trade unions is open, honest, transparent and already highly-regulated. Trade Union support comes from millions of workers who vote to donate to their union’s political fund.

The big issue is ending the arms race on election expenditure which has corrupted the political process.

There can be no question of now rewriting the internal constitution of the Labour Party. The trade unions are not the problem.

Contemporary Motions

Take them seriously and respect Conference decisions. Better still, there should be early and continuing dialogue between the trade unions and the Government to find common cause.

Section 2: "Warwick Agreement"

What have you done to help implement Warwick? 

In your opinion, what is the most important policy in the Warwick Agreement?

Our Party will have to think about the next manifesto soon - what issues would you like to see in the next ‘Warwick’?

Implement Warwick

In Government, I have supported implementation, including on family friendly flexibility and pensions.

Most Important

Corporate manslaughter because calling to account negligent employers who knowingly preside over unsafe practices that maim and kill will save lives and avoid human tragedies.

Warwick 2

Mandatory equal pay audits and making it more difficult for employers to export jobs and manufacturing by strengthening consultation and redundancy rights.

Section 3: Issues for Working People

What action would you take to improve protection for Agency & Temporary Workers?

How would you ensure that women & men are treated equally in the workplace?

What are your views on the transfer of public services and staff to the private sector? 

What are your views on the role and future of private equity firms?

Pensions & training are a crucial element in the relationship between workers and employers.

What role should trade unions play in negotiating the relationship?

Everyone is entitled to fourteen weeks unpaid parental leave, but this is not much use to single parents or those on low wages.

What action would you take to support those parents in most need?


I want to see a Government Bill in the November Queen’s Speech on equal treatment of Agency workers and the directly-employed.

Equal treatment in the workplace

By introducing mandatory equal pay audits and strengthening the rights to flexible working and by investing yet more in childcare.


I value the public service ethos and public services should not be seen as just a marketplace. If more hip operations can be done by using an independent treatment centre to boost capacity, that is in the public interest. But the overwhelming emphasis must be on boosting publicly-provided capacity.

Private equity

Private equity reverses a generation of progress on the transparency and accountability of public companies. Leveraged buy-outs threaten the asset-stripping of decent companies that are not basket-cases. Sainsbury’s was a classic example.

We need action on transparency, taxation and regulation to ensure that private equity is accountable and does not make huge profits at the expense of workers and the general public.

Pensions and training

Both should be designated in law as trade unions having the right to negotiate. On pensions, the move to 50/50 Trustees is essential.

Unpaid parental leave

Extra investment to ensure that those who need to take parental leave are not prevented from doing so because they can’t afford it. We need to pay for parents to have time off when their child is sick, with child sick pay and leave.

Section 4: General Political Issues

How would you ensure the defence of the UK and what role would Trident play in it?

Do you think academy schools and trust schools are the best way of improving UK education?

What more do you think the Labour Party should be doing to tackle the threat of parties such as the BNP?

How do you think a Labour Government should tackle prejudice against immigrants and asylum seekers?

What law would you most like the Labour Government to pass?

What parts of the European Social Model should the UK seek to emulate?

How would you assist the development of trade unions and workers rights in the developing world?

What is your view on the 4th Option for council housing, as called for by the Labour Conference?

How can a commitment to the environment help working people?


Security starts with tackling the causes of terrorism and conflict. That is why our Africa agenda for development and ending poverty is vital in preventing Al Quaeda gaining ground. Security is also about community support, winning hearts and minds.

Strong conventional forces are essential as is maximising defence manufacturing in the UK. 

On Trident, Labour gave a manifesto pledge to maintain the nuclear deterrent.

Academy/Trust Schools 

No, the best way is extra investment to have the best head teachers. An Institute for Head Teachers would be a very good idea to train Heads. No one not certified by the Institute should be a Head Teacher.


By mobilising communities and building Labour locally. My CLP has nearly doubled in size in four years and the BNP do not get a look-in in Peckham and Camberwell.

Then by tackling the causes of division, providing more social housing and introducing equal treatment of agency workers and the directly-employed. It is wrong that migrant workers are exploited and workers here for generations are undercut.


We should start by welcoming the benefits of managed migration. We are a nation built on successive waves of migration. Migrant workers are essential to our economy and the delivery of public service.

We then need action on social housing and equal treatment of agency workers and the directly-employed to tackle the causes of division.

And the time has come for the regularisation of undocumented workers so that they can emerge from the twilight world of exploitation, work and pay taxes.

Law would most like

That all jobs must be available part time as well as full time.

European Social Model

A successful economy must be built on fairness and social cohesion. Britain is a better place thanks to 10 years of a Labour Government. But we must do better still.

Developing World

We should do more to fund the development of trade unions and make aid contingent on respect for workers rights.

We should also make ethical trading a reality, leading by example when we let public contracts.

And we should name and shame companies that turn a blind eye to third world exploitation.

Council Housing

I supported the Peckham tenants when they voted against stock transfer. The time has come for a greater level playing-field with equality of access to public funds so that tenants have a real right to choose.

Global warming

Global warming threatens humanity worldwide and tackling global warming is our biggest challenge.

Tackling global warming is a challenge but it is also an opportunity.

I want to promote joint working in the workplace on energy efficiency and tackling emissions.

And I want to see a boom for British manufacturing of renewables.


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