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Chuka Umunna sets out at an Usdaw fringe meeting a 3-point plan to protect workers' rights after Brexit

Date: 25 September 2017 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett today chaired a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton about Brexit and protecting workers’ rights. On the panel was Melanie Onn MP for Great Grimsby and Chuka Umunna MP for Streatham.
Setting out a 3-point plan to protect workers’ rights after Brexit, Chuka Umunna said: “First, we have to arrest the decline in trade union membership, not in Usdaw who have added 100,000 members in the last decade or so. I’m surprised this is not dominating our debates. Secondly, we have to fight tooth and nail to prevent existing rights being diluted as they are transferred into UK law.

“Finally we have to argue for staying in the single market and customs union, not just in the transition period but permanently. Membership of the single market matters when it comes to workers’ rights! It’s a social, not just economic issue. That is how we stop our workers’ rights being diminished.

“This Conservative Government doesn’t have a mandate to take us out of the single market, so we are not disregarding the will of the people. If we fall off a cliff when it comes to Brexit it will be working people and trade unionists who will suffer.”

Outlining a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons to put workers’ rights at the centre of the Brexit agenda, Melanie Onn said: “My bill was talked out, but it did influence the agenda and the Prime Minister suddenly started talking about it. However we cannot trust a Conservative government to deliver, just look at their record.

“Half the cabinet have made incredibly anti-worker statements. Liam Fox said it’s too difficult to fire staff in this country, Priti Patel has called for a halving of social and employment legislation, Chris Grayling said we must slay health and safety culture, Boris Johnson said the weight of employment legislation is now back-breaking. And the Prime Minister has in the past opposed the adoption of the Social Chapter.

“We have to keep the pressure up. It is workers’ rights, but there are so many other issues like consumer protection and environmental standards. The way the negotiations are going they could so easily be swept away.”

Concluding the meeting John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said: “We can’t fudge this issue by not having the debate, whether it’s in the party or elsewhere. It’s the biggest issue that we face and therefore we have to be brave to confront it. We don’t want to be learning the lessons after the event, we should be informing the debate now. Brexit is fundamental to workers’ rights.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 20% in the 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

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers