Unions dismiss May’s Brexit workers’ rights pledge as a “joke”

Unions have dismissed Theresa May’s pledges to improve workers’ rights, with the TUC calling them a “joke”.

In a bid to win the votes of MPs in Leave constituencies, ministers yesterday promised unions would be consulted in advance on any proposed changes on workers’ rights, MPs would be given a vote on adopting future EU rules on workers’ rights and there would be a new single enforcement body to protect vulnerable and agency workers.

But the announcement fell flat, with the TUC tweeting: “The PM’s claim that Britain’s leading the way on workers rights is a joke. No one should be taken in by this blatant window dressing. Make no mistake workers rights are still under threat.’

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “No one should be under any illusion – support for the Prime Minister’s bad Brexit deal means swapping strong legal protections on workers’ rights for legally unenforceable tweaks that are not worth the paper they are written on.

“As a trade union we know that assurances on ‘non-regression’ are meaningless if there is no way to enforce them.  These promises would fail to ensure working people’s rights in the UK keep pace with those in our neighbouring countries.

“The crux of this announcement seems to be that Parliament can make news laws if it wants – it can already do that, that’s not a headline, and Ministers on the government benches have been more interested in removing worker’s rights than protecting them.

“The government’s deal would see the existing backstop on workers’ rights pulled from beneath people’s feet, with employment protections we all rely on being left to the mercy of whichever hard line Tory takes the reins next.

“History will not be kind to those who risk our rights on a few nods and winks from a lame duck Prime Minister.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Any guarantees about protecting existing and ensuring future employment rights must be in the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement. Anything less, and the promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

“European laws have made working in the UK safer and better. Brexit mustn’t mean UK employees become the cheapest to hire and the easiest to fire. No-one should be hoodwinked into thinking that this is a good deal for workers. It isn’t.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Just as a leopard doesn’t change its spots, the Conservatives will always attack working people. It’s in their DNA.

“It’s fools’ gold to believe that May and her cohorts have all of sudden decided to support workers’ rights. This is a con to trick gullible Labour MPs to support their jobs destroying Brexit. No one on our side must fall for this nonsense.

“Tory Brexit is so far a route map to disaster for our members. The only sure way now to protect the rights of our workers is by staying in the European Union.”

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