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John McDonnell will lay out plans to force companies to give workers a financial stake when he addresses a trade union conference later today.

Speaking at the 150th Trade Union Congress, the shadow chancellor will say Labour would give employees the right to take part in “ownership funds” in order to “restore the balance of power in the workplace”.

Under a Labour government, he will say, all private companies with more than 250 employees would be forced to set up the funds to give workers a stake and more say over how the firm is run.

The changes would be introduced in law within the first year of a Labour administration led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Addressing union delegates in Manchester, Mr McDonnell will say: “Labour’s programme of workplace reform will restore the balance between employer and worker with a significant extension of trade union rights, modernising corporate governance structures and extending the opportunity for employees to share collectively in the benefits of ownership of their company.

“Labour’s common sense approach will forge a new workplace environment best suited to meeting the challenges of Britain’s ongoing low productivity and the emerging fourth industrial revolution.”

Mr McDonnell will claim the Conservative government has taken employment rights back to a level not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“The role of Conservative governments throughout history has been to restrict and restrain the rights and influence of workers to maximise the profits of the companies that so generously fund their party,” he is expected to say. “It’s a straight quid pro quo.

“The Conservatives try to dress it up as securing some form of balance of power between workers and employers, but few today can argue that the balance hasn’t been overwhelmingly tipped against workers.” Read more

Related news: Give workers four-day week and more pay, unions urge businesses. Read more