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EU Social Laws For A Yes Vote

Friday, January 18, 2013

GMB warns Cameron that workers will not vote in a referendum for a one way street Europe where they are second class citizens.

Let Cameron, the Tories and business be warned that if they succeed in getting a deal to take away these social benefits that workers will not vote in the referendum to stay in the EU says GMB.

GMB commented the extracts of the now postponed EU speech- released in advance- by David Cameron on 17th January. See notes to editors 1 for press association report on the extracts.

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said “Millions of UK workers bought into the EU ideal on the balance of a free business market for jobs that had a social dimension for equality, employment rights, health and safety protections, access to justice and for the free movement not the exploitation of labour. See notes to editors 2 for GMB response to Fresh Start Group proposals on this.

Let there be no misunderstanding that if the EU is only there for the needs of business without these social benefits that this is not the EU millions of workers in the UK would vote for in a referendum.

Let Cameron, the Tories and business be warned that if they succeed in getting a deal to take away these social benefits that workers will not vote to stay in the EU.

UK workers will not vote for a one way street EU where in terms of social benefits they are second class citizens. UK workers will not be used to appease the bigotry of the Tory backbenchers”.


GMB press office 07921 289880 or Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer 07841 181 549 or 00 32 2 230 56 75

Notes to Editors

1 Press Association report on extracts of speech released in advance of the now postponed speech -17th Jan 2013.

Prime Minister David Cameron served notice today that Britain could leave the European Union if its concerns about its membership are not resolved.

Extracts from a speech that Mr Cameron was planning to make this morning show that the Prime Minister intended to make clear that he wants the UK to play a "committed and active" part in the EU in future.

But he was also planning to warn that, if changes are not made to address the three key challenges of eurozone crisis, economic competitiveness and dramatically declining public support, "the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit".

But the extracts released by Downing Street did not reveal whether the Prime Minister intended to commit himself to an in/out referendum on British membership of the EU following the renegotiation of its terms which he has already said he plans to undertake after the 2015 general election.

The Prime Minister's reference to possible exit from the EU is his starkest warning yet of the consequence of failure to reform Europe, and echoes Chancellor George Osborne's comment to a German newspaper last week that "in order that we can remain in the European Union, the EU must change".

Mr Cameron's long-awaited speech in the Netherlands was dramatically postponed last night, after the Prime Minister decided he should stay in London to deal with the bloody fallout from the hostage crisis in Algeria.

The postponement - to a date yet to be fixed - is the latest mishap to befall the his attempt, several months in the planning, to spell out his vision for the future of Europe.

First trailed as early as September, the speech has already been so delayed that Mr Cameron joked he was taking a "tantric" approach to it.

He prepared the ground for a public statement of his Europe policy by speaking to opposite numbers in Germany and Sweden in the Netherlands over the last few days, and discussed last night what he planned to say with French president Francois Hollande and US president Barack Obama.

Segments of the speech released last night showed that he was intending to tell Europe's leaders that they have a "duty" to respond to the growing frustration of their people and to accept change to the way the EU operates.

"More of the same" would condemn EU nations to "less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs", he argued.

According to the speech extracts, Mr Cameron was planning to use the address to set out what he termed a "positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part".

He was planning to tell an audience of business people and EU diplomats that Europe "must change, both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples".

The woes of the euro were already forcing "fundamental change" on the structures of the EU, while a "crisis" in competitiveness was allowing emerging nations around the world to "soar ahead" of Europe, he was due to say.

And he was planning to warn that "there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is - yes - felt particularly acutely in Britain".

The speech extracts warned: "If we don't address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.

"I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success and I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it."

According to Mr Cameron, the austerity measures taken to deal with the crisis in the eurozone have given added urgency to the issue of the EU's democratic legitimacy.

"People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent," he was intending to argue.

"And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain. Europe's leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. And we have a duty to act on them."

In a riposte to supporters of the status quo in Europe, Mr Cameron was planning to warn: "More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens.

"More of the same will just produce more of the same - less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs. And that will make our countries weaker, not stronger."

The Prime Minister's approach won the support of London mayor Boris Johnson, who said in a speech last night that he believed voters would back a renegotiated membership which saw Britain stay in the single market but remove some of the "barnacles" which have grown up around EU membership.

But Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable warned that renegotiation was a "dangerous gamble", while Labour's Douglas Alexander said Mr Cameron was "sleepwalking towards exit".

There was also renewed US pressure, with President Barack Obama telling Mr Cameron that Washington greatly valued Britain being in the EU.

Mr Cameron set out his proposed speech in a call with the president yesterday afternoon before it was postponed.

The White House made clear that Mr Obama maintained the pressure on the Prime Minister in the call.

A spokesman said: "The president underscored our close alliance with the United Kingdom and said that the United States values a strong UK in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity, and security in Europe and around the world."

2 GMB response to Tory Fresh Start Group manifesto to repeal application in the UK of EU laws on 16th January


This is not a fresh start it is turning the clock back on equal rights, health and safety, financial services and freedom from exploitation says GMB

GMB responded to the publication by the Tory Fresh Start Group of a manifesto to repeal application in the UK of EU laws covering social and employment rights, health and safety protections, access to justice, banking and financial market regulation and reform and free movement not exploitation of labour.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer, said “Tory MPs are seeking to repeal the law brought in to prevent another Clapham Junction train disaster. In December 1988 35  people were killed and 500 injured in a commuter train crash due to a signal failure caused by faulty wiring by a worker who had worked 7 days a week for 13 weeks prior to the crash without a break.

This is not a fresh start; it is turning the clock back on equal rights, health and safety, financial services and freedom from exploitation. The only thing that is fresh about any of this is the cheek that they have to think we are stupid enough to believe their claim that these plans are for the benefit of our country and the British public.

These Fresh Start proposals will cause us massive pain and put our economy and our standing in Europe and the world in jeopardy. These are plans by Eurosceptic Tories to feather the nests of their mates in the City and the land owning gentry.

Even their mates in the CBI have told them all they are bonkers, because they know what it will do for jobs, industries and the economy in Britain.

Tories need to understand that workers in Britain are not going to stand by and have hard won rights and protections that they and their families enjoy stolen from them so that Tories can calm civil war within a struggling party

Let’s just look at what is at stake:

Social and Employment Rights, and Health and safety protections - The key areas of legislation Tories and Fresh Start want to repatriate are employment and social rights, not because they are going to give us spanky new ones at national level, they are just going to flush them away. Look at the unending attacks on our national workplace rights and protections if you want evidence of that. Let’s look at what would go if we were out or on the edge of Europe:

- Working Time Directive which includes: Legal right to paid holidays, Right not to work longer than 48 hours a week (this is number one target)

- Rights for part time, fixed term and agency workers

- Equal treatment rights and other anti-discrimination rights

- A whole raft of workplace health and safety rights

- Rights and protections in collective redundancies

- Rights and protections for workers in the transfer of undertakings (TUPE)

- Pregnant workers’ rights

The list is longer (see annex attached which Fresh start green paper used too). We fought hard for these rights, and we now need to fight hard to keep them.

The Coalition Government had our working time rights listed as a target even back in their coalition manifesto, and Cameron and Fresh Start will be looking to give that both barrels. So why don’t we ask Cameron and his Euro sceptic friends - if they worked in care homes and the NHS or other on-call services and were forced to stay on the employer’s premises overnight on-call - would they accept being told they were not going to get paid for this time on call? Of course they wouldn’t, but that is what they will force on all the hundreds of thousands of on-call workers across Britain if they are allowed to walk away from working time protections.

We quickly start to get the picture that far from there being little or nothing for workers and everyday Britons in this “fresh settlement with Europe”, it is a direct attack on us all.

Access to justice

Tories and Fresh start want us out of EU criminal justice measures. But without cross-border cooperation with police from other Member States, how will the UK conduct international investigations if something happens to a British citizen abroad? Without the European arrest warrant, how will criminals be brought to justice back in the UK – such as one of the perpetrators of the 7/7 bombings, found and arrested in Italy? Without the vital work and information of the EU agencies Europol and Eurojust, how does Cameron propose to track missing Britons and bring them safely home – such as UK schoolgirl Megan Stammers, repatriated last November? And without the protection of the newly adopted victims’ package – how does Cameron propose to protect and support future victims of crime abroad and ensure that the tireless work of victim’s mum Maggie Hughes to bring her son Robbie’s attackers to justice wasn’t all in vain?

These are all measures that stand to help everyday British families, and are the very ones they want to destroy.

Banking and financial market regulation and Reform

Most people in Britain applaud the EU for taking action to curb the reckless actions of banks and financial markets which instigated the crisis and want them to go further with this. Cameron and Fresh start project want to unravel all of this to keep their City mates rich and happy. They don’t care what the majority of the country think on this issue.

Free movement not exploitation

People in Britain want the freedom to visit, live, work, study and retire in the EU but not to be exploited when they go there or for workers that come to Britain to be exploited by employers who seek to undercut domestic wages, conditions and collective agreements. Cameron and the Euro sceptic right wingers oppose strengthening the rights and protections of posted workers to stop social dumping and exploitation which trade unions in Britain and across Europe are calling for. Another area where our views just don’t count in their vision of the EU;

All the things that benefit people in Britain are being put up for sacrifice because they are so arrogant and detached from what people in Britain really want that they think we will be the silent majority in this debate. It is high time people across Britain let this Government know that enough is enough.

There is only one thing in this manifesto GMB would like to see Cameron deliver and that is to end the expensive and wasteful Strasbourg sessions of the European Parliament, which the Labour Party and trade unions have supported for years.”


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