John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“Today’s triggering of Article 50 puts businesses and workers in an extended period of uncertainty. Nobody can honestly say they know how the UK exiting the EU in two years will impact our economy, so there is a lot at stake in the forthcoming negotiations.
“To prosper, the UK needs a growing economy that protects employment rights and improves workers’ terms and conditions. As we leave one of the world’s largest trading blocs, it is yet unclear what our position will be with the rest of the EU and what effect our exit will have on jobs. We have already seen a fall in the pound lead to imports becoming more expensive, prices rising in shops and inflation doubling since the referendum last June. That has an impact on the cost of living of all workers and on jobs in the retail sector.
“Europe delivered core employment rights that Usdaw members rely on, such as: Paid holiday leave and proper rest breaks; safeguards against discrimination; equal treatment for part-time workers; information and consultation in the workplace; TUPE rights for transferring workers, and important health and safety protections.
“Now we are leaving the EU these protections are at risk of being dismantled by the UK Conservative Government, as they have done with so many other rights not protected by Europe. The Prime Minister has committed to transfer EU workers’ rights into UK law and she must deliver, but that offers no guarantee for the future. We were alarmed to hear Tory calls, on the eve of Article 50 being triggered, for a ‘root and branch’ review of EU regulations, describing basic employment rights as costly.
“Usdaw members and all workers cannot afford a hard Brexit that costs jobs and deregulates hard-won employment rights. We will be watching the negotiations closely and will continue to campaign to improve workers lives.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest trade union with nearly 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion