Trade union leaders urge six million members to vote Remain in EU referendum

EU has helped secure workers' rights - but they could be lost after Brexit


Leaders of ten of the country’s biggest trade unions have written a joint letter calling on their 6 million members to vote to stay in the European Union.

The letter, published today in the Guardian, argues membership of the EU has defended and extended workers’ rights in Britain and beyond – rights that could be under threat if we leave.

It says:

‘the social and cultural benefits of remaining in the EU far outweigh any advantages of leaving.’

It comes as the Left is ramping up its campaign to ensure members and supporters of Left-wing parties, organisations and causes vote Remain on June 23.

Today’s letter was signed by Len McCluskey of Unite, Dave Prentis of of Unison, Tim Roache of the GMB, Manuel Cortes of the TSSA, John Smith of the Musicians’ Union, Dave Ward of the CWU, Matt Wrack of the FBU, John Hannett of the USDAW, Gerry Morrissey, of Bectu, and Roy Rickhuss of Community. (Each is general secretary of their union.)

They write:

‘Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s the British trade union movement worked in solidarity with our European partners and fought hard to secure valuable working rights legislation at EU level.

To this day these rights – including maternity and paternity rights, equal treatment for full-time, part-time and agency workers, and the right to paid leave – continue to underpin and protect working rights for British people.’

They are ‘in no doubt’ that if Britain leaves the EU, politicians will ‘negotiate away our rights’, adding: ‘We simply do not trust this government if they are presented with an unrestricted, unchecked opportunity to attack our current working rights.’

The authors accept that ‘Europe needs to change’, pledging to work with trade union colleagues to reverse austerity and work to shape the union’s direction and values. It concludes:

‘The decision the British people must make on 23 June should not be taken lightly, but we urge our members to vote remain.’

Adam Barnett is a staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

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