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Brexit casts its shadow over workers rights – Gerry Adams TD

19 April, 2018 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams addressed Global Steering Committee of the trans-national UNI Global Union in Monasterboice, County Louth, on Wednesday evening.UNI Global Union was holding its two-day international conference.

 Representatives from over a dozen countries participated in the conference which was looking at health care issues and the approach of the Union, which represents 20 million workers in over 150 counties worldwide, to issues like Brexit.

Teachta Adams was asked to speak to the conference on the issue of Brexit, as well as the recent 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.Teachta Adams called on the Irish government, in the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty, to lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework.

Deputy Adams said:

“This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

Speaking on Brexit Gerry Adams said;

“The British referendum result in 2016 on Brexit is probably the most serious political and economic crisis to face this island in many decades. No part of the island of Ireland, and in particular border regions like County Louth, will be immune from the economic and political consequences of Brexit.

"Workers will also be especially vulnerable as a consequence of Brexit. Many important elements of existing workers’ rights, such as pay and working time, are regulated by EU social law. Brexit is a threat to this.

"There is little doubt that the Tories in London, supported by their allies in the DUP, will use Brexit to whittle away at hard-fought workers’ rights. They will seek to undermine the rights of trade unions – including the right to join a trade union, to strike, and to organise collectively.

In terms of workers’ rights, the Tories and Brexiteers are keen to see:

The erosion of legislation protecting agency workers.

The expansion of zero-hour and if-and-when contracts.

The removal of key elements of anti-discrimination law.

Deregulation of work safety standards in the name of ‘efficiency'.

Attacks on laws relating to migrant workers and immigration – which feeds into xenophobia.

Attacks on the welfare state and the social wage.

"These issues are not confined to the north and to Britain. The conservative right in this state will also use Brexit to attack workers’ rights and standards. We are already facing a rise in if-and-when contracts, in agency workers, and the watering-down of pension and other entitlements.

"Fine Gael’s moves against the welfare state in the South - making it more difficult for workers to avail of unemployment payments, along with the outsourcing of the social protection system to private, for-profit, operators - will increase under Brexit.

"They will claim that this is necessary because of the 'threat' caused by Brexit to the economy. In other words, what 'austerity' was in the last ten years, 'Brexit' will be for the next ten. This needs to be challenged and resisted.

"Sinn Féin believes that this can be accomplished most effectively through a coming together of progressive forces in the north and south – political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups.

"Only such progressive partnerships can genuinely resist the onslaught from the political right on the lives of ordinary people.

“In the Brexit referendum the people of the North voted to remain in the EU. In the aftermath of the referendum Sinn Féin called for the North to be given a special status within the EU.

That position is supported by the Oireachtas, the majority of MLAs in the Assembly and the European Parliament.

"In the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty the Irish government must lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework.

"This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

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