Theresa May will campaign Monday that Brexit will be used to expand protections and rights for workers, contrary to the claims of Remain campaigners during the European Union referendum.
“I said I would use Brexit to extend the protections and rights that workers enjoy, and our manifesto will deliver exactly that,” the prime minister will say whilst visiting a training facility in the South of England, claiming that her party planned “the greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative Government in history” in an official press release.
The move comes as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) accused the Tories of “stealing” a number of popular policies designed to woo the Labour Party’s disaffected working-class base.
— UKIP (@UKIP) May 15, 2017
The list of 11 proposals, which will appear in the Tory manifesto when it is published on May 18th, include the following measures:
Protection for all workers’ rights currently guaranteed by EU law.
New protections for ‘gig’ economy workers in line with the recommendations of the Matthew Taylor Review.
Representation for workers on company boards.
A new statutory right to leave to care for a family member.
New rules to protect workers’ pensions from irresponsible behaviour by company bosses, like unsustainable dividends and takeovers that put the future of the pension scheme at risk.
A statutory right to child bereavement leave.
During the referendum, Remain campaigners such as Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC), claimed an EU exit threatened statutory rights such as maternity leave and paid holidays.
Leave campaigners warned voters this was scaremongering at the time, with Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU) chairman Doug Nicholls telling Spiked it was “an insult to say that our rights are protected and depend on the European Union”.
“You tell that to a Greek worker, an Italian worker, a Spanish worker, or any of those accession states, who were told that their national collective-bargaining structures had to disappear if they were to get into the EU,” he said.
Left wing outlets such as the Socialist Worker also expressed scepticism at claims the bloc provided a shield for workers.
“David Cameron and George Osborne, the bosses’ CBI organisation, the International Monetary Fund, and the US and Chinese governments all [supported] a Remain vote,” argued an April 2016 editorial. “Does [Frances O’Grady] really believe they are committed to labour rights?”
The outlet pointed out that many of the rights credited to the EU were in fact won by successive generations of working-class campaigners.
“In reality these rights were won by struggle. By the 1970s workers in Britain had fought for and won much stronger legislation than that guaranteed by the EU.
“Equal pay legislation came in the wake of the strike by women workers at Ford Dagenham in 1968. Paid holidays and maternity leave in Britain both exceed the minimum EU standards.”