EU must respond to UK violations on workers’ rights

The EU has laid the ground for action if the UK government breaches its commitment to workers’ rights under the Brexit deal.

The European Parliament adopted a report on the proposal for a regulation on enforcing and implementing the UK Withdrawal Agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“At a time when the UK is threatening to disregard its commitments to maintaining workers’ rights under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, it is only right the EU has the means to respond and is ready to deploy them. Undermining workers’ rights in the UK undermines workers’ rights in the EU. We need to avoid a race to the bottom.

“The ETUC is particularly concerned about the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill and the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which seek to repeal workers’ rights acquired over 50 years of EU membership. In addition, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill risks throwing open the delicate settlement reached to preserve a whole island economy by eliminating the need for a hard border.

“If these bills come into force, there is little doubt the UK would be in violation of its international commitments. The EU should stand ready to act in defence of workers’ rights and engage with trade unions, including through the Domestic Advisory Group.”

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:                                                           

“This Conservative government is threatening to take a wrecking ball to workers’ rights.

“That would not only have consequences for workers in the UK, but put the country on a collision course with the EU – which could wreak havoc with the UK’s trading relationships.

“The Conservatives promised to make Britain the best place to work in in the world after Brexit. But this government is now pursuing a damaging anti-worker agenda.

“First, ministers set off a ticking time bomb under vital workplace rights through the Retained EU law Bill. They threatened to rip up key laws at the end of this year – such as holiday pay, safe working hours and protection from discrimination.

“Then they attacked the fundamental right to strike through the Strikes Bill. The Conservatives do not have a mandate to slash and burn people’s rights at work. Ministers should drop these reckless bills before lasting damage is done.“

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