Before the EU referendum in June, our union and countless others warned of the consequences of leaving the EU. For UNISON members, the EU secures rights at work and at home that protect individual workers from some of the worst excesses of the worst employers. For UNISON as a union, EU legislation makes it easier to stand up for our members, regardless of where they work or what they do.
The British people chose to leave the EU in June, but that does not mean that they choose to lose their rights at work, or that we should accept a bonfire of pro-worker legislation as a result.
There is still much to fight for. And fight we will.
Tomorrow Great Grimsby MP and UNISON member Melanie Onn MP will introduce a bill in Parliament that would guarantee the protection in UK law of all the workers rights we currently derive from our membership of the European Union.
The Workers’ Rights (Maintenance of EU Standards) Bill includes securing:
· Equal rights for agency and part-time workers
· The maintenance of the working time directive
· Collective bargaining rights
· The protection of workers’ employment and contracts following the outsourcing or change of ownership of their business
Only by ensuring that Parliament secures these rights in law before Brexit can we be sure that Brexit doesn’t mean an overnight abandonment of a generation’s worth of protections. Unless swift action is taken, hard won rights like paid holiday, fair working hours, equal rights for part-time workers and maternity and paternity leave risk being lost forever.
I am still saddened by our country’s decision to walk away from the European Union – but now that the decision has been taken, we have to make the best of a difficult situation. That cannot mean abandoning the advances we have made on rights at work.
Melanie’s Bill deserves a proper hearing from MPs – I hope it is the start of a process that ensures UNISON members, and all working people, retain the protections they all rely on.