Read the full TUC action plan at tuc.org.uk/actionplan
What the government must do right now to stop working people paying the price for the Leave vote
Still scarred by the effects of the 2008 financial crash, working people and their communities must not be asked to pay the price – again – of economic uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU.
The TUC does not agree with the Chancellor that the fundamentals of the UK economy are sound. Only yesterday revised figures showed business investment in its worse shape for six years. And this was for the first quarter of the year, a long time before the referendum effect. Since then businesses have made it very clear that further cancellations are in the pipeline.
The current Prime Minister and his government have to act quickly and decisively to reduce the extreme uncertainty that is already impacting on these investment decisions and that will hit jobs. They must not just sleepwalk through their final months in office and into a recession. The Governor of the Bank of England has led the way, but a bolder strategy is needed. The government must announce its intention to support the economy with increased investment in infrastructure, immediate financial support for vulnerable industries, ongoing support for sterling and higher pay. The new prime minister must learn from the mistakes of the past and not embark on another round of spending cuts.
Today the TUC has published findings from a poll that was taken immediately after the EU referendum ballot closed.
The poll – of 2,000 referendum voters – found that nearly three-fifths (58%) would oppose a “Brexit cuts budget”, with opposition highest amongst those who voted for Leave (65%). Just one in six voters (17%) supports plans for a cuts budget following the UK’s decision to exit from the European Union.
The vast majority of Remain (80%) and Leave (77%) voters back a post-Brexit policy of maintaining protection against discrimination at work and safeguarding vital rights like maternity leave. Both sets of voters agree that all parties should declare that they will protect all of the employment rights currently guaranteed by the EU once the UK leaves.
These poll findings coincide with the TUC’s new national action plan to protect the economy, jobs and workers’ rights after the referendum vote.
The report calls for:
- Immediate financial support for industry – with automotive, aviation, agriculture, retail and financial service industries immediately the most vulnerable – to help stave off job losses now.
- Increased investment in infrastructure: building 75,000-100,000 homes a year, including new council housing, announcing plans for more high-speed rail and implementing the recommendations of the Airports Commission giving the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow.
- A modern industrial strategy, to start creating the well paid, skilled jobs of the future across the nations and regions of the UK.
- A smart procurement strategy, using infrastructure investments, defence and security procurement and public spending commitments to support industry.
- Protection for all workers’ rights guaranteed by Europe once the UK leaves the EU.
- Protecting the UK’s access to the EU single market.
The government must recognise that unions as well as businesses have a constructive role to play, alongside devolved nations, English local enterprise partnerships, combined authorities and city regions as well as the relevant government departments. Specifically, a task force should be set up to monitor the situation in sectors and regions, to provide early warning of problems, and lay the foundations for a changed approach.
Beyond immediate actions, Britain’s confidence and common purpose must be rebuilt. Politicians have to step back from divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. Racist incidents must be firmly dealt with, both in workplaces and in the wider community. We need to confirm the continued right of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK to remain here permanently. And the government – and the whole political class – must consider anew how to recognise and act upon the legitimate concerns of many voters about immigration, including a migration impacts and tougher enforcement to prevent unscrupulous bosses using migrant workers to undercut local labour.
Rebuilding our economy, protecting our industries, healing the wounds evident in the country. The task ahead is enormous, but if we don’t get started on the tast right now, it will be that much harder. If that happens, working people will end up paying a very high price, with their jobs, rights and living standards.