Now that the Prime Minister has finally triggered Article 50 and started the process of negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU, it remains clear that Theresa May's promise to protect UK worker's rights will just be one more Tory lie!
As Tory minister's such as Liam Fox and Boris Johnson, line up to support the business lobby and the likes of the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail in attacking worker's rights and demanding their removal from the statute books after we leave the EU; the Great Repeal Bill will be the vehicle by which the Tories sneak in massive cuts to worker's rights at best, or total abolition at worst.
Workers’ rights will be scrapped including parental leave, paid holiday and breaks, employee protections and huge areas of health and safety law will be abolished too, given the number of Tory Brexit ministers, and MPs including back benchers making their feelings known every opportunity they get in the media.
A little known Fact is that May's plans include handing over decisions on worker's rights to the judiciary not only in the future, but also giving judges the power to change important rights and protections at work that British workers already have.
This means that important rules to protect workers could be overturned, without the UK Parliament having any say.
The TUC knows this, but crucially, also knows that the fight to save worker's rights is fully on; and that one weapon we have is on-line petitions which DO WORK!
It is one way that ALL working people can voice their opinion and challenge the government's affirmation that regulations of work places is a cost to jobs and the economy that we can't afford.
The TUC's 'Working Together' website tells it how it is in demanding the Government: "Commit publicly that you will not vote for any reduction in British workers' rights, or restrict their applicability, when interpreting EU law into post-Brexit UK law."
Indeed, their press release and email to those signed up for TUC Working Together email updates, reminds us of what is at stake:
"The big news is that the Prime Minister has promised to safeguard the workplace rights currently protected in EU law. That’s a win, and your help was part of it.
Who would have thought that a Conservative Prime Minister would commit to protecting workers’ rights as one of her top 12 objectives for Brexit?
But (yes, sadly, there’s a but…) the systems she has proposed fall short of delivering on those promises.
For starters, will the wins we’ve secured through the European Court of Justice still apply? And what about the ECJ’s future decisions? Will UK workers benefit from these? Many in the PM’s own party would still like to cut back paid holidays, equality for women and part-time workers, and rights to compensation.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (one of the three ministers charged with delivering Brexit) even gave his backing to a Telegraph campaign to axe EU regulations - including rights derived from the Working Time Directive.
Mrs May is proposing handing the power to change important rights and protections at work that British workers already have to judges.
This means that important rules to protect workers could be overturned, without the UK Parliament having any say. Her Government is also taking wide-ranging powers that will allow ministers to scrap or water down rights later on in the process, without coming back to Parliament.
And, in the longer term, she has not done what we’ve asked and promised that working people’s rights in Britain after Brexit will keep up with new rights that the rest of the EU introduces. Those could include measures to tackle zero hours contracts, bogus self-employment and new rights for working parents.
So we could fall further and further behind our European neighbours, becoming second-class citizens with worse and worse rights at work.
Promises are good, but when things are this important we need guarantees.
That makes the next few months crucial. We’ve been working with trade unions around Europe to make sure that European leaders negotiating Brexit insist that workers’ rights mustn’t be given away. And we’re pressing British MPs to honour the Prime Minister’s promises.
Next month, the Queen’s Speech will include a Great Repeal Bill, and we will have the chance to make sure that the Prime Minister puts her promises into practice by protecting the rights we won from Europe.
We must also ensure the Government doesn’t get the power to take those rights away in secret."
But the game of pitting worker against worker and generation against generation continues with Liam Fox recent articles in the Press that it is morally unjust to maintain worker's rights and force future generations into unemployment! The same excuse given for the austerity and forcing people to work until they are 70 years of age; as is being discussed currently!
Writing in the FT as long ago as 2012, Fox continues to repeat the same mantra whenever he gets the chance:
"To restore competitiveness we must begin by deregulating the labour market. Political objections must be overridden. "It is too difficult to hire and fire, and too expensive to take on new employees. "It is intellectually unsustainable to believe that workplace rights should remain untouchable while output and employment are clearly cyclical."
His comments were supported by the Daily Telegraph (aka The Torygraph) with Jeremy Warner, writing in an article entitled Firms will hire more workers if we make it easier to fire them
He stated that that UK businesses are suffering from “oppressive levels of labour protection.” In his view, having exhausted all other options for stimulating the economy, “supply-side reform of welfare, employment law and planning is a well-proven path to economic renewal.”
Further and clearly thinking ahead to the situation we now have as a result of the decision to leave the EU, and in line with those who fear that the Tories intend to align our employment ands safety legislation with that of the USA, Warner said we should take inspiration from the US:
"It is no accident of geography that the US economy is now making real inroads into unemployment, which in Britain is still rising. In America it is virtually as easy to fire as it is to hire, significantly reducing the risks of job creation.
He says that many business leaders would support such an approach, but are so far afraid to voice their true feelings:
The reluctance of industry leaders to stick their heads above the parapet in part reflects the continued power of ‘big’ business, which has tolerated oppressive levels of labour protection because it has the management systems and market clout to absorb the costs, and also because these protections are a highly effective barrier to entry."
On 24th February, speaking to an audience at a Party of European Socialists (PES) conference on Brexit taking place in London, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We must not allow Britain to become the cheap labour capital of Europe. That would be bad for workers in Britain. And it would be bad for our friends in France, Germany and elsewhere if they end up being undercut by us.
The TUC’s top priorities are to safeguard jobs, rights, wages and investment.
We want rights that are as good as, or preferably better than, the minimum standards set by the EU.
The government has told us not to worry because they will protect workers’ rights. As trade unionists we like promises, but we prefer guarantees.
Promising that existing rights will not be stripped away does not guarantee that British workers won’t fall behind our friends in the EU in the future.
The Prime Minister was wrong to rule out keeping Britain in the single market. The ‘deal or no deal’ talk and threat to turn the UK into a giant offshore tax haven isn’t strong – it’s reckless.
As we saw all too vividly from the leaked document that categorised industries like steel and telecoms as a low priority, it’s working people’s livelihoods being put at risk.
Instead we need a new deal that delivers skilled jobs, on good wages, in the parts of Britain that need them most.”
So, it is imperative that as you finish reading this news item, you sign the TUC's Petition by clicking on the petition pic above.
Source: TUC / Unionsafety / Daily Telegraph / FT