Simon Boyd welcomes Boris Johnson and the £350m NHS battle bus to REIDsteel during the referendum campaign. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images
The #Brexit mask begins to slip: they’re still after our rights
We welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledge at Conservative Party Conference (repeated by Ministers) that workers would keep their current rights – and gain new rights – after Brexit. It’s not enough, but it’s a start (we want it guaranteed, not just pledged, and we want to make sure British workers don’t fall behind those across Europe.) And it’s clearly not a done deal, as REIDsteel boss Simon Boyd showed this week by writing to every single MP urging them to use Brexit to scrap a whole swathe of protections for working people, including working time, holiday pay and health and safety.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady responded:
“The Leave campaign promised people more control over their lives. But now bad bosses are trying to hijack Brexit to let them walk all over working people. No-one voted to leave to lose vital protections like safe working hours and fair holiday pay.”
Simon Boyd’s call – promoted by Brexiteers, not just the act of a crazed loner – echoes some of the arguments made by Leave Means Leave’s John Longworth, who used to be a business leader, at the DEXEU Select Committee earlier this month. They set out some of the plans being laid by right-wing politicians and bosses to take advantage of Brexit to turn Britain into an offshore cheap labour zone.
Before Britain leaves the EU, we need to make sure that future governments aren’t able to take away our rights, and we want to make sure we don’t fall behind as new rights are secured by trade unionists in the rest of the European Union. Rights currently being considered would outlaw exploitative zero hours contracts, provide employment rights for people working in the so-called platform economy like Uber, as well as ensure migrants couldn’t be abused in ways that undermine existing workers.
As we start a new year, the TUC will be demanding a Brexit that works for working people. Because what’s good for British workers is good for Britain.