Posted: 12/04/2016 11:36 BST Updated: 12/04/2016 11:36 BST
It is very disappointing to see the TUC teaming up with the Government and multinational business to promote Project Fear. It is a common feature of pro-EU arguments that rather than attempt to say positive things about the EU, they instead scaremonger about what could or might happen were we a fully sovereign nation again.
The reality is that the EU could rescind whichever employment rights it wishes at any time. But unlike changes made by British governments, you, the voter, do not have the option to vote out the European Commission if they introduce law that you don’t like, or if they sign up to secretive trade deals that undermine workers’ rights and put business interests before the public’s – like TTIP. This is the agreement the EU is promoting behind closed doors, and which British trade unions are furiously battling against. Even the UN has warned that TTIP risks moving us to a “post-democratic” world.
As the TUC must surely know, most of the rights British workers enjoy were won by the labour movement at national level. They are not gifts from EU bureaucrats, they were fought for and won by working people.
In the infamous Viking and Laval rulings of the ECJ, we can see exactly how much the EU values workers’ rights. “There is much concern among unions at recent decisions of the European Court of Justice – particularly the Viking-Laval cases – that appear to allow companies to undermine existing pay, working conditions and pensions by moving workforces around Europe…” Those were the words of Brendan Barber in 2009, then head of the TUC. In the years since the EU has only become more hostile to workers – just ask the Greeks.
The free movement of labour that Barber refers to has been used by business to drive down wages and conditions – through no fault of the workers themselves. Yet it has been the low earners in Britain who have been hit hardest.
The TUC should be asking serious questions of this rich boys’ business club – not peddling its scare stories. It’s no wonder so many trade unionists are passionately opposed to the EU. Many Labour supporters and members of the trade union movement understand the anti-democratic EU does not seek to promote a social Europe that works for ordinary people, but merely protects cosy cartels and the interests of giant multinational corporations – particularly the banks.
NHS activists are terrified of what TTIP will mean for the health service, and the privatisation of postal and train services across the whole of Europe is already well underway, by EU diktat. The people of Europe don’t want that, but that’s what they’re getting.
The UK has consistently led Europe with regard to improving workers’ pay and conditions and this will not change whether we remain or leave. The idea that holiday pay will be put at risk by the UK leaving the EU is scaremongering of the highest order. Roll back workers’ rights in the UK and you get voted out. Roll them back in the EU and nothing happens. The Dutch, Irish and French have all said No to the EU – it didn’t get them very far. The EU is a business cabal. Leaving is the only option left.
Kate Hoey is the Labour MP for Vauxhall and co-founder of Grassroots Out