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Fresh Start Turns Clock Back On EU

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tories hostile to EU want to scrap laws to prevent another Clapham Junction train disaster says GMB.

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. 

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.”


Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer 07841 181 549 or 00 32 2 230 56 75.  GMB Press Office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823

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