Sleepwalking Into Hard Brexit

Mick Hall argues that:

We are sleepwalking into a Hard Brexit which will leave British workers unprotected from unscrupulous employers 

The British government needs to come out of the shadows and tell us what Brexit will actually mean.

On Wednesday Tory MPs, John Whittingdale and Michael Gove suggested to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) business group that:

...companies should start drawing up a list of regulations they want to see abolished or reformed.
Such as?

Gove highlighted a government-commissioned report by Marc Bolland, the former chief executive of Marks & Spencer, which ran through a list of EU employment protections it would like to see withdrawn or changed including pregnant worker proposals, the agency workers directive, the acquired rights directive and the working time directive.

Oh, there's lip service paid to the 'concerns of the TUC' but...

John Longworth, the former chair of the British Chamber of Commerce, who campaigned to leave, told the committee that he thought the “opportunities for deregulation are legion ... Some of it will be to do with employment rights. Some of it will be to do with the fact that people might not be allowed to do overtime that they wish to do,” he said, citing lorry drivers as an example.

Jesus Christ, it's as if we're sleepwalking into a disaster for the British working classes, we're diverted from this type of intrigue and conspiracy by the mainstream media throwing dead cats on the table.

We're told Brexit is about Brexit, whatever that may mean, Ukip and the Tories claim it's all about taking back sovereignty and bringing immigration down to a reasonable level, yet neither says what that level should be. Many people who voted out may welcome this, those on the remain side less so, but it's not what the Tory government is actually about.

Besides the EU have made it perfectly clear what it's negotiating position will be: access to the single market will not be on offer unless Britain accepts the free movement of people, services and goods.

When you read the above you get a clearer picture of why the Government and Ukip are quite happy to leave the EU, no matter what the cost to ordinary families and working class people. They see it as an opportunity to turn the clock back on decades of progressive legislation. They have always despised EU laws which protect employees from unscrupulous bosses, and attempt to put some manners on the banks, multinationals and millionaire tax dodgers who refuse to pay their fair share.

They see Brexit as crisis which can be turned into an opportunity to turn the clock back to a bygone age when ordinary people knew their place in society and were fearful of challenging the powerful.

If Brexit is to be a success for the majority of people we need to know what the government intends, what EU laws will be placed on the UK's statute book, and what they intend to do about enhancing sovereignty, not as seems likely diminishing it. A written constitution would be a good start and an end to an unelected second law making chamber.

So what regulations are under threat if the British government chooses to leave the EU by a door marked Hard Brexit, which EU laws would they keep if any, what would they change or get rid of:

The EU Working Time Regulations of 1998 guarantee four weeks of paid leave as a European minimum plus public holidays, unless this is brought into UK law before we exit the EU it will no longer protect all British employees. The right of Female part-time workers to join occupational pension schemes was determined by rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which found that excluding them constituted indirect sex discrimination. If The UK left the ECJ as Mrs May wants, this right would fall by the wayside if it were not brought into UK law. The EU's Working Time Directive which protects the hours people can work and protects the public for dangerous situations such as train drivers or lorry drivers being over tired due to working excessive hours. The EU framework directive on discrimination in 2000 significantly changed UK law, introducing new protected categories so employers cannot now discriminate based on age, sexual orientation or religion. Other examples are the outlawing of discrimination based on being a part-time, or fixed-term worker, the right to rest breaks, paid holiday which I mentioned above, and leave for working parents all derive from EU directives. The agency workers directive confers certain basic employment rights on agency workers similar to those enjoyed by permanent employees, and there are also record keeping requirements.
These are the major EU laws which protect people at work, they are all under threat as you can see from what John Whittingdale and Michael Gove said to the Confederation of British Industry business group. We ignore this at our own peril.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

2 comments to ''Sleepwalking Into Hard Brexit"

  1. Brexit, bringing back the good old days, with kiddies stuffed up chimneys and a 14 hour day down't mill.

  2. Mick,

    Employers are not all of the same mindset of the boss in Oliver Twist, these days they realise that they will get a LOT more productivity out of staff if they are happy!

    "The EU Working Time Regulations of 1998 guarantee four weeks of paid leave as a European minimum plus public holidays, unless this is brought into UK law before we exit the EU it will no longer protect all British employees"

    "The UK negotiated an Opt-Out to the 48 hour working week in 1993 which is still in place, although whether a future Government outside of the EU may/can choose to scrap the maximum working hours completely is an open question. The UK Government, however, has ‘gold-plated’ the holiday part of the Regulations. The minimum paid holiday entitlement required by the EU is 20 days – the UK currently gives 28 days. Some countries give much less, but Spain, for example, gives 30 days.

    Rights for pregnant workers and maternity leave rights (including discrimination rights for pregnancy and maternity under the Equality Act 2010): EU regulations require that a minimum of 14 weeks maternity pay is paid. The UK Government have increased this to 39 paid weeks, which would be difficult to change."

    I have quoted from work done on the issues you raised, which you can find here..

    Big Bad British Bosses are not about to destroy workers rights as it would be illegal, unconstitutional, and counter-productive to their interests. What the b*stards WILL do, is find even more ways to avoid paying tax, which is were we should be focusing the spotlight on!

    As someone who employs people I have found this maxim to work the best.

    " Hire people who are BETTER than you and MOTIVATE them".

    Having a bunch of unhappy workers is a nightmare for all concerned, I've worked in plenty of places were the moral was zero. No surprise they folded.


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