European Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, and Dominic Raab, British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, are currently working to reach agreement on a Brexit deal. There are many things on the negotiation table, and a number of areas of disagreement remain, as the two negotiators explained during a press conference on 21 August.
On 27 August, Rani Bech from newsletter Fagligt.eu asked TUC General Secretary Frances O?Grady what the situation looks like for British workers:
-Prime Minister Theresa May keeps telling us that Brexit will not affect workers’ rights, Frances O?Grady begins. But the government has refused to give any guarantees. So we have a promise with no guarantees. And we don?t feel reassured when we listen to the Minister?s promises.
Without guarantees, the minimum rights coming from the EU, which provide a safety net for British workers, will disappear. This applies to both working time, maternity- and parental leave and equal pay, among others.
-Our collective agreements are based on these minimum rights. They will therefore come under pressure following Brexit. We will fight to include workers’ rights in the Brexit deal. The alternative is that we become more like America where many people live without any rights, says O?Grady.
Not just a British problem
And according to the TUC General Secretary, this is not just a problem that British workers will be facing.
– If conditions for British workers deteriorate, this will eventually also affect Danish and other European workers. Even good employers will not feel they have an alternative to a race to the bottom. In the long run, this is not good for the economy, society or workers. We all have a shared interest in ensuring that this does not happen, she says, and maintains that this problem has already manifested itself all over Europe.
– During the past decade, the balance of power has tipped – and not in favour of the workers. There are investments into technology – but there must also be investments into workers in order to ensure a stable and good economy. Many workers will be categorized as self-employed and will thereby lose their workers’ rights. Workers are told that they must be glad they have a job in the first place. I don?t believe that this is good enough in a developed country. Workers must have the right to decent conditions. We do not want competitiveness to be based on poor rights for workers. This is not good for anyone, says O?Grady, adding that this was not what the people who voted for Brexit wanted either.
Employers were the problem – not immigrants
– No one voted in favour of getting poorer or having fewer rights. The debate leading up to the vote was all about immigrants and people were encouraged to blame them for the problems. Now, people have started to discover that immigrants are not the problem but that greedy employers are.
O?Grady underlines the importance of workers in Europe uniting.
– It doesn?t matter how much or how little workers have in common. They will always have more in common than with the employers. Today, many work for the same multinationals that operate across borders. We all experience the same pressures and the same challenges as in Britain – and share the concern for the future, Frances O?Grady concludes.
Translated from Fagligt.eu
LO: Denmark needs a well-functioning British trade deal including workers’ rights
From a Danish perspective, it is important that the EU and the UK maintain close ties after Brexit ? as a large number of Danish businesses depend on free trade with the UK.
The Economic Council of the Labour Movement estimates that more than 12,000 Danish jobs will be lost in a no-deal scenario. Denmark therefore needs a well-functioning trade deal.
Both British and European workers would suffer negative consequences from Brexit in terms of job losses, cuts to salaries or a lowering of rights.
-Access to the EU?s internal market must be met with requirements to comply with EU regulation on employment, occupational health and safety and workers? rights? says Arne Grevsen, First Vice President from LO-Denmark.