Ken Clarke arrives in Downing Street earlier today. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Ken Clarke resigns as Cameron's reshuffle begins

One Nation veteran steps down from the government before he is pushed.

Update 21:36pm

The resuffle is continuing, with Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley all unofficially confirmed to have left the cabinet. Meanwhile, rumours are swirling round Westminster of a shock departure, with William Hague thought to be the most likely candidate. 

Of note is that the two biggest Conservative supporters of the European Convention on Human Rights, Grieve and Ken Clarke, have both left, paving the way for a possible Conservative manifesto pledge to withdraw from the treaty. 

Update 19:38pm

Universities minister David Willetts, who attended cabinet, has announced his resignation, along with International Development minister Alan Duncan and "Big Society" minister Nick Hurd.

David Cameron's final cabinet reshuffle of this parliament has begun. The PM is currently meeting those Conservative ministers leaving the government in his Commons office in order to spare them the walk of shame up Downing Street. By contrast, those who are being elevated to the cabinet, will be paraded in full view of the TV cameras tomorrow. 

The first to depart are Ken Clarke, who was serving as minister without portfolio (having been demoted from Justice Secretary in 2012), and David Jones, the Welsh Secretary. Of note is that Clarke's resignation means this will be the first Tory-led government since 1972 not to feature him on the frontbench. And, as I wrote last week, his departure, to be followed by that of Chief Whip George Young, means the cabinet will be left without a One Nation flag-bearer

In response to his sacking, Jones told ITV News: "It's not been a bad run - I've had four years as a minister, two years as Secretary of State." He added that Cameron was "very kind" and made it clear that the reshuffle was about "freshening up the team". Jones is best known for warning, at the time of the equal marriage bill, that same sex partners could not provide "a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children". He and Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, who is also expected to be sacked, were the only Conservative cabinet ministers to vote against the legislation. 

Reshuffle

Out

Ken Clarke (Minister without Portfolio)

Dominic Grieve (Attorney General) 

David Jones (Secretary of State for Wales)

Andrew Lansley (Leader of the House of Commons) 

Owen Paterson (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 

David Willetts (Universities Minister)

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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There's nothing Luddite about banning zero-hours contracts

The TUC general secretary responds to the Taylor Review. 

Unions have been criticised over the past week for our lukewarm response to the Taylor Review. According to the report’s author we were wrong to expect “quick fixes”, when “gradual change” is the order of the day. “Why aren’t you celebrating the new ‘flexibility’ the gig economy has unleashed?” others have complained.

Our response to these arguments is clear. Unions are not Luddites, and we recognise that the world of work is changing. But to understand these changes, we need to recognise that we’ve seen shifts in the balance of power in the workplace that go well beyond the replacement of a paper schedule with an app.

Years of attacks on trade unions have reduced workers’ bargaining power. This is key to understanding today’s world of work. Economic theory says that the near full employment rates should enable workers to ask for higher pay – but we’re still in the middle of the longest pay squeeze for 150 years.

And while fears of mass unemployment didn’t materialise after the economic crisis, we saw working people increasingly forced to accept jobs with less security, be it zero-hours contracts, agency work, or low-paid self-employment.

The key test for us is not whether new laws respond to new technology. It’s whether they harness it to make the world of work better, and give working people the confidence they need to negotiate better rights.

Don’t get me wrong. Matthew Taylor’s review is not without merit. We support his call for the abolishment of the Swedish Derogation – a loophole that has allowed employers to get away with paying agency workers less, even when they are doing the same job as their permanent colleagues.

Guaranteeing all workers the right to sick pay would make a real difference, as would asking employers to pay a higher rate for non-contracted hours. Payment for when shifts are cancelled at the last minute, as is now increasingly the case in the United States, was a key ask in our submission to the review.

But where the report falls short is not taking power seriously. 

The proposed new "dependent contractor status" carries real risks of downgrading people’s ability to receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Here new technology isn’t creating new risks – it’s exacerbating old ones that we have fought to eradicate.

It’s no surprise that we are nervous about the return of "piece rates" or payment for tasks completed, rather than hours worked. Our experience of these has been in sectors like contract cleaning and hotels, where they’re used to set unreasonable targets, and drive down pay. Forgive us for being sceptical about Uber’s record of following the letter of the law.

Taylor’s proposals on zero-hours contracts also miss the point. Those on zero hours contracts – working in low paid sectors like hospitality, caring, and retail - are dependent on their boss for the hours they need to pay their bills. A "right to request" guaranteed hours from an exploitative boss is no right at all for many workers. Those in insecure jobs are in constant fear of having their hours cut if they speak up at work. Will the "right to request" really change this?

Tilting the balance of power back towards workers is what the trade union movement exists for. But it’s also vital to delivering the better productivity and growth Britain so sorely needs.

There is plenty of evidence from across the UK and the wider world that workplaces with good terms and conditions, pay and worker voice are more productive. That’s why the OECD (hardly a left-wing mouth piece) has called for a new debate about how collective bargaining can deliver more equality, more inclusion and better jobs all round.

We know as a union movement that we have to up our game. And part of that thinking must include how trade unions can take advantage of new technologies to organise workers.

We are ready for this challenge. Our role isn’t to stop changes in technology. It’s to make sure technology is used to make working people’s lives better, and to make sure any gains are fairly shared.

Frances O'Grady is the General Secretary of the TUC.