Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary, has written to Theresa May to reiterate that any Brexit deal struck by parliament must ensure the interests of working people are protected.
Following up her meeting with the Prime Minister, Ms O'Grady's letter sets out the three tests agreed by the General Council and Congress, saying a Brexit deal must:
- maintain workers' existing rights and establish a level playing field so that British workers' rights do not fall behind those of other European workers;
- preserve tariff-free, barrier-free, frictionless trade with the rest of Europe to protect jobs;
- ensure no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, to preserve jobs, livelihoods and peace.
The TUC has consistently set out their concern that the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) as drafted falls well short of the protections that people at work need. Ms O'Grady goes on to urge Mrs May to revisit her 'red lines' to discuss a customs union and single market relationship with the EU as the only way to properly protect jobs and rights here in the UK, now and into the future, and to uphold peace in Northern Ireland.
The letter urges the Prime Minister to focus any new negotiations with Brussels on strengthening the provisions on workers' rights, rather than on the so-called backstop provisions.
Ms Grady says, “As you know, the ETUC, TUC and our colleagues in Ireland have consistently called for an approach that supports and upholds the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). We are concerned that the GFA, the guarantees of no hard border and the protection of human and equal rights should not be further destabilised.”
The letter sets out areas in which the WA would need to be changed to improve the protection on jobs and rights offered by the current deal:
- the enforcement mechanism for workers' rights contained in the backstop;
- the lack of a binding commitment to non-regression of rights; and
- the potential for a divergence of rights.
Ms O’Grady ends by saying, “It would be helpful to hear your plans for structured engagement with the trade union movement, under the auspices of the TUC, to discuss these and any other points further.”
Download the letter in full: