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Will a Brexit Erode Hard-Won British Working Rights?

Patrick McGuire warned of a ‘travesty’ against workers if the UK exited the EU

A vote to leave the European Union will leave workers in the United Kingdom exposed to greater risks in the workplace and will reduce employment legislation to an absolute minimum, one of the country’s leading personal injury lawyers has claimed.

Patrick McGuire warned of a ‘travesty’ against workers if the UK exited the EU after the referendum on 23rd June, arguing that decades of hard fought-for rights could be overturned by the decision to leave. The result, McGuire said, would be a catastrophic loss of legislative safeguards which could mean many more people being seriously injured in the workplace.

He highlighted the many ways in which EU laws, directives, rules and treaties have enhanced UK workers’ rights and improved workplace health and safety, expressing the belief that many large businesses wanted to remain within the EU precisely because of the laws governing how they manage their workforces.

Current EU legislation places a cap on the number of hours employees can be expected to work, as well as protecting workers from discrimination and unfair dismissal. It also ensures mandatory equal pay for male and female employees.

McGuire’s comments came after a report published by the TUC expressed the organisation’s fears that the current Conservative government could immediately start removing EU-endorsed rights and protections for workers in the event of a ‘Brexit’ this summer.

McGuire said that the government had already taken steps to remove hard-won workers’ rights by curbing trades unions’ powers, and warned that the situation would only worsen if the UK were to leave the EU.

Hugh Aitken of CBI Scotland echoed McGuire’s comments, arguing that the single market is of huge benefit to British industry. He said that ensuring EU social policy continues to support growth and employment within the UK was a top priority for British businesses.

However the head of the Labour Leave campaign, former Edinburgh South MP Nigel Griffiths, has criticised McGuire for ‘scaremongering’. Speaking in opposition to McGuire and the TUC, he argued that the real threat to workers’ rights in the UK came from dominant, right-wing governments within the EU, pointing in particular to the leaders of Germany and Poland.

Griffiths warned that anyone who thought that the EU was protecting workers’ rights in 2016 was ‘living in the past’, and said that some popular key rights such as the national minimum wage and statutory maternity pay had been introduced without the endorsement of the European Union.

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  1. I just hate left wing fanatics that claim to know exactly how any action will effect everybody when nobody else has a clue. Of course, spreading completely made up and misleading “facts” such as stated in this article will mean some undecideds will now vote to stay in, which is exactly what the author wants, but PLEASE…lets have some balance here. The way this article is written our employment laws will dissolve back to a level when cotton mills were thriving. Why would that be? We had decent enough employment laws before Brussels started telling us what they should be so why would we abandon them just because we are out of the EU? Scaremongering and illogical, biased reporting which does nothing to enhance this authors reputation or the IN campaigns mission.

  2. Tom Atkinson

    More scaremongering from the remain group. If one thinks the EU is good for workers there are many studies which contradict that assertion. However, just consider temps, who because of EU diktats and ECJ rulings cannot be paid hoiliday pay in their hourly rate. As a consequence, agencies have to define holiday year periods. The outcome is that the temp has to request holiday leave and therefore pay in that period. Temps by their nature are a transient and often itinerant workforce. Needless to say, many move on and never claim and sums accrued to pay them and also potential NIees and NIers to HMRC. At year end, such sums are neatly and legally sent straight to the agencies’ bottom lines. I’m sure this is not a result to satisfy unions but it is the result of EU interference in our market. June soon. Let’s get the right to vote in (or even more importantly out – if we don’t like what they are doing) our own law makers and tax takers. Just vote to leave.

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