01 November 2017
Brexit Minister Lord Martin Callanan has been exposed by Political Scrapbook saying EU-derived workers’ rights should be scrapped.
The news source republished a video from 2012 in which the peer, formerly an MEP, said during a debate in the European Parliament: “There is one action we could take right now to show businesses our commitment to growth … scrap the employment and social affairs directorate in the commission, and repatriate its responsibilities to national governments … then we could scrap the working time directive, the agency workers’ directive, the pregnant worker’s directive and all the other barriers to actually employing people.”
Speaking to the Independent, Shadow Brexit Minister, Paul Blomfield, said: “Lord Callanan is clearly someone who, like Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Liam Fox, sees Brexit as an opportunity to undermine workers’ rights and dilute employment law.”
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has faced heavy criticism for its wide-ranging “Henry VIII” powers, which allow the government to amend legislation deriving from the EU unilaterally, without requiring a vote in parliament.
This, critics say, could lead to the dilution of beneficial legislation, including workers’ rights. Furthermore, unless workers’ rights are preserved in primary legislation, hard-won precedents in European case law could be weakened in the UK courts if employers seek to challenge the protections workers currently receive.
Lord Callanan’s views will also fuel concerns that even if workers’ rights are left untouched during the Brexit process, the government may then seek to abolish them in parliament.
The necessity to sign new Free Trade Agreements following Brexit could also threaten workers’ rights, as there are fears the UK will be under pressure to concede our current regulatory protections during negotiations with countries with weaker employment law.
The Institute of Employment Rights is bringing together leading lawyers, academics and trade unionists from across the UK for our Post-Brexit Employment Rights and Trade Deals conferences in Glasgow and Liverpool this month.
Our panel will discuss both the threats and opportunities for workers’ rights emanating from the Brexit process and Free Trade Agreements.