TUC warns that weakening employment rights will endanger EU ‘yes’ vote

Voters are concerned about the impact of cutting red tape on businesses


The TUC has warned today that the government’s plans to weaken employment rights will endanger the EU ‘yes’ vote.

A poll of 4,000 UK voters – commissioned from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research by the TUC – showed that 55 per cent of the public would be more supportive of Britain’s membership of the EU if it did more to help people get decent pay and working conditions.

By contrast, fewer than one in four (23 per cent) said they would be more supportive of the UK’s EU membership if it did more to cut red tape on businesses.

‘Red tape’ is frequently cited by eurosceptics as one of the problems with EU membership. The High Level Group on Administrative Burdens (HLG) describes how ‘more and more detailed rules which affect the daily life of citizens have tarnished the image of the EU in the public opinion and resulted in the EU being regarded as a “bureaucratic monster”.’

But the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) has warned that cutting red tape could result in serious human rights breaches. In a 2014 report it found that 43 out of 84 companies listed on the UK’s FTSE 100 were named in reports on allegations of human rights issues in the last ten years.

Jerome Chaplier, ECCJ coordinator said:

“Some of Europe’s biggest companies are alleged to have been involved in serious human rights abuses. Governments have failed to oversee or regulate their private sector. With this backdrop, the emphasis from the European Commission on cutting ‘red tape’ is a cause for concern.”

The findings of the TUC poll suggest that British workers are also concerned about the impact of this kind of reformation. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“This poll should be a warning shot to business leaders and politicians. If they opportunistically use re-negotiation to call for weaker employment rights they will make getting a ‘yes’ vote much harder.

“Support for staying in Europe will haemorrhage if ordinary Britons feel their working lives are going to be made worse.

“Chipping away at paid holidays, rest breaks, maternity rights and fair treatment for part-time and agency workers is the last thing people want.

“Europe is at its best when it meets the interests of both business and workers. Abandoning this blueprint would be a disaster for the UK and the EU.”

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.