Steve Turner’s Foreword to the new Institute of Employment Right’s publication “Europe, the EU and Britain: Workers’ Rights and Economic Democracy”
“The question of Britain’s membership of the EU was one which divided both Britain and the trade union movement. Important issues were raised on both sides.
On the Remain side, trade union members were deeply concerned about the employment rights underpinned by the European Union (EU); ongoing rights of migrant workers to both stay in the UK and fight exploitation in the labour market; the impact on external investment; and the consequences for trade with Britain’s biggest market as well as the resulting impact on jobs. On the Leave side, the concern was with the neoliberal framework for EU law, the erosion of trade union rights, the restrictions imposed on state aid, on public ownership and the proactive use of public procurement.
‘Programme for a radical restructuring of the economy’
Now, however, we are beyond the debate. A democratic decision has been made. What is critical is the kind of settlement that is reached. This question has been made all the more urgent by political developments in Britain: the emergence of the Labour Party as a credible party of government with a programme for a radical restructuring of the economy, a reassertion of trade union rights and collective bargaining, and an active, interventionist, industrial strategy including a measure of public ownership. The type of settlement reached with the EU will directly determine whether or not this programme can be realised…
‘For the few not the many’
The types of exit from the EU envisaged by the current Conservative government – and there are clearly more than one being canvassed – are all essentially neo-liberal. One will incorporate all elements of EU law into British law, including competition law, in a bid to secure preferential access terms for big business, particularly the City of London. The other, the Singapore model offered by Boris Johnson, would seek trade deals modelled on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and be equally prejudicial to an activist industrial policy.
Whatever the Conservatives try to do, we can be sure it will be for the few and not the many. This is why it is so important that trade unionists identify their own priorities for an EU settlement and campaign for them now.”
Visit the IER website for more information and to purchase http://www.ier.org.uk/node/3628