17 July 2015
According to reports, David Cameron is to make an opt-out from EU employment laws, like the Working Time Directive and the Temporary Agency Work Directive, one of his goals in his EU negotiations.
This means British workers will lose the right to paid holiday and rest breaks, to equal rights of pay and conditions for temporary employees, and no guaranteed equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, to name but a few.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said; “British workers won’t vote to stay in a EU for big business that is stripped of workers’ rights. Attacking paid holidays and equal rights for agency workers will serve only to fuel ill feeling against free movement, as employers find it easier to hire migrant workers on worse pay and conditions”.
“We want a Europe that delivers more and better jobs, equal pay for equal work for migrant & local workers to stop exploitation, and an end to wages being driven down by unscrupulous employers: indeed, that Europe needs a pay rise too, not just Britain”, she said.
Withdrawing from the Social Chapter will threaten a large chunk of support for EU membership. Europe’s employment laws, when compared with the weakness of our own, are one of the only positives of EU membership. At a time when TTIP and the brutal treatment of Greece sit at the forefront of our consciousness, justification for a yes vote was already tentative.
As George Monbiot says in the Guardian,“The EU seemed to me to be a civilising force, restraining the cruel and destructive tendencies of certain member governments (including our own), setting standards that prevented them from destroying the natural world or trashing workers rights, creating a buffer between them and the corporate lobby groups that present an urgent threat to democracy. Now I’m not so sure. Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage.”
GMB and Unite have said they would challenge any bid to opt-out of Europe’s employment laws.