ANGELA Rayner has denied Labour has watered down its plans on reforming workers’ rights during her conference speech.

The deputy leader of the party addressed a packed conference hall in Liverpool on the first day of Labour’s four-day annual get-together.

Speaking at the event, Rayner recommitted the party to banning zero-hours contracts and controversial “fire and rehire” schemes which see people fired from their jobs then rehired on worse conditions or pay.

She said: “Conference, I’ve heard some rumours that we’ll be watering down our new deal for working people.

“Be in no doubt, not with Keir [Starmer] and I at the helm.

READ MORE: Word cloud on BBC exposes what people really think of Keir Starmer

“We’ll ban zero-hour contracts, and fire-and-rehire, and give workers basic rights from day one.

“We’ll go further and faster in closing the gender pay gap, make work more family-friendly, and tackle sexual harassment.

“And we won’t stop there. We’ll ensure that unions can stand up for their members. We will boost collective bargaining, to improve workers’ pay, terms and conditions.”

In her speech, Rayner also promised Labour would deliver new council homes, strengthen renters’ rights, and abolish leasehold land tenure, if the party wins the next General Election.

'Need a better offer'

But the party faced criticism from one of its biggest union backers for being “too timid”.

Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham told Sky News she would “keep Labour's feet to the fire” on issues like the renationalisation of industry.

She said: “If it's uncomfortable for me to be raising issues like the renationalisation of energy investment in steel, oil and gas, then I'm not embarrassed by that because that's my job to do it.

“I want a Labour government that is going to make real change to people's lives. And I think at the moment Labour have been too timid.

"I want to say really clearly they need to put a better offer on the table for workers.

"There's a difference between limping into Number 10 and being actually carried in there."

The National: Paul Nowak photo call

Rayner’s speech was praised by Paul Nowak (above), the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress.

He said: “Labour’s new deal for working people will improve working lives for millions across Britain.

“It’s the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation.

“We need employment standards fit for the 21st century so that everyone knows they’ll be treated fairly at work with decent pay and conditions.

“Good employers should welcome these plans. The new deal will help create more productive workplaces and stop rogue bosses from undercutting the best.

“Decent, secure jobs are essential to building a motivated, healthy workforce and are what every worker deserves.”