From the TUC

MPs debate Brexit: we want to know what will happen to our rights at work

31 Jan 2017, by in Politics

Today, the second reading debate for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-17 begins. Or in shorthand, MPs will finally start debating Article 50, or the start of the Brexit negotiations. It has taken a long time to get something substantive debated – something more than just opinions – so we want something concrete about working people’s rights. This is what we’ve asked MPs to demand in the Commons debate.

The TUC campaigned in the referendum for the UK to remain in the European Union, because we believed this was the best way to protect working people’s living standards and workplace rights. However, we accept the result: our priority now is to ensure that as we leave the EU, protecting working people’s rights and living standards is at the centre of the negotiations about our future relationships both with the EU and the rest of the world.

We welcomed the judgment of the Supreme Court that required legislation in Parliament before Article 50 was triggered as an opportunity to ensure that the Government set out clearly how workers’ rights will be protected. We believe that during debates on the passage of the Bill the Government should make clear:

  • how it will protect existing workers’ rights at work that derive from EU legislation; and
  • how it will ensure that workers’ rights in the UK do not fall behind those of workers in Europe, and that the government does not seek to compete in a race to the bottom by cutting workplace rights.

It is also an opportunity for Government to make clear how it will take into account the views of the devolved administrations and the voices of working people and business, so we’re also asking for details of the arrangements the Government will make for consulting with unions, business, civil society and the devolved administrations on the details of these commitments.

Finally, we’re asking:

  • how the Government will ensure that jobs dependent on exports are protected by securing the best possible trading arrangements with our European partners, including the details of any proposal that would leave us outside of the single market;
  • how we can keep our common travel area with Ireland; and
  • how the Government will guarantee the right to remain for EU citizens currently living and working in the UK.

The Second Reading debate will last for two days this week, followed by the Committee Stage next week where the big arguments over amendments will take place before the Third Reading (probably next Wednesday.)