Businesses and unions across the country call for right to remain for EU citizens
Today chambers of commerce representing businesses and TUC offices across the country put out joint statements calling for the government to stop stalling and give EU citizens the right to remain.
These joint statements back the open letter the heads of the TUC and British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) sent to the Prime Minister on Sunday which said she should make a ‘bold unilateral move’ and guarantee EU citizens the right to stay permanently in the country after Britain leave the EU.
This collaboration came from a wish by businesses and unions for the government to give certainty to workers about their future and prevent bad employers using migrant workers who are less secure to undercut wages and conditions in the local community.
“Business leaders and trade unions in the North East are joining voices on this because the uncertainty is bad for businesses, bad for public services, and unfair to so many of our hard-working friends and neighbours.
“Families that are settled here and making a positive contribution to our community are very worried. So this is simply the right thing to do. But it’s also about avoiding problems for business that could lose staff, and protecting services like our local hospitals, which would be in trouble if doctors and nurses from the EU left.”
In the North East NHS trust alone, official figures show there are over 450 doctors and almost 200 nurses from the EEA.
While James Ramsbotham, North East England Chamber of Commerce chief executive said:
“Our members are hugely disappointed that ministers are stalling on the need to guarantee residents’ rights for their EU colleagues. Businesses need certainty and could be losing key employees due this lack of decision.
“We urge the Government to ensure skilled EU citizens working in our region know they can build their careers here and play a part in our future economic success.”
The joint call from the TUC and BCC was cited in Parliament yesterday to press the government to make this commitment to the right to remain.
Yet Theresa May’s statement in the House of Commons yesterday continued to peddle the false line that the government cannot act without the EU27 countries agreeing to reciprocal rights for UK citizens first.
As I’ve blogged previously, the government can and should break the deadlock and make the first move. This would both show the EU citizens here the humane consideration they deserve – rather than being treated ‘bargaining chips’ – and make it more likely that this would mean EU27 countries would follow suit.
The TUC has also made calls for the right to remain for EU citizens with the CBI and IOD employers groups as well as jointly with a cross-party group of MPs with British Future among others, as Owen Tudor has blogged here.
Let’s hope that the united voices of business and trade unions across the country, along with a growing number of MPs and other civil society groups, helps to prompt the Prime Minister to change her mind.
She must give assurance and protection at work to the over three million EU citizens that have made Britain their home.