GMB Experts in the World of Work
Join GMB today
 Follow @GMB_union

24 Hours To Save Workers’ Rights

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Union Leader Says “24 Hours To Save Workers’ Rights”, As Powerful GMB Film Shows Hope And Fears In People's Own Words

Watch British workers tell their stories in emotive new film 

Tim Roache, the General Secretary of one of Britain's largest unions, GMB, has warned there are just 24 hours to save workers’ rights, as statements criticising key protections at work made by Leave campaigners have surfaced.

Leading Leave campaigners have, in the past, cast doubt on EU legislation protecting workers’ rights. Michael Gove described paternity leave as “job destroying” in his column in The Times in 2000, while Boris Johnson in his column in the Daily Telegraph in 2014 said it was time to “root out the nonsense of the social chapter - the working time directive and the atypical work directive and other job-destroying regulations”.

In 2013, Johnson said small business was getting a “raw deal” with regulations, “paternity leave being the latest example”. Meanwhile Nigel Farage told the BBC he would axe “much of” race discrimination law.

GMB is calling on the Leave campaign to make its intentions clear before Thursday so its members can make their decision fully informed.

Tim Roache said “In the past, leading figures from the Leave campaign have said they believe EU legislation that protects workers’ rights is ‘job destroying’. Their intentions are absolutely clear. We’ve got just 72 hours to save workers’ rights, by voting to remain in the European Union. For me it’s an angry remain, I recognise Europe is far from perfect but the only way we can rebalance that is to be in the European Union, shaping reform for working people.”

Since April, the union has contacted thousands of its members to understand the real concerns of people in work in Britain. The result was a film that shows the hopes and fears of working people as they make their decision.”

You can watch the film here: Watch British workers tell their stories in emotive new film

Tim Roache added "From chemical plants to supermarkets, people told us that they are genuinely concerned about what Brexit would mean for their job security and their rights at work.”


Contact: or 0207 391 6755 or, for more information on the film including how you can embed for your publication, please speak to:

Mike Harris: / 0203 411 2891 / 07974 838468

Media desk: / 0203 2 898902

Notes to editors

Quotes from Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage:

“Take the question of the Prime Minister’s paternity leave. Mr Blair may be reluctant to take a week off, but his government is considering a statutory obligation on companies to grant employees paid paternity leave. This new legislation would place further burden on those enterprises that are best able to produce new jobs and are least equipped to cope with another bureaucratic regulation. Having shown us that he’s still capable of producing growth in his own domestic product, Mr Blair seems determined to stifle the nation’s. Statutory paternity leave is just one of the battery of job-destroying European measures from the Working Time Directive, to the varied provisions of the social chapter, which remain intact after Lisbon.”

Michael Gove. "The BBC's veil of silence at Lisbon." Times [London, England] 28 Mar. 2000

“We should go into those renegotiations with a clear agenda: to root out the nonsense of the social chapter - the working time directive and the atypical work directive and other job-destroying regulations.”

The Daily Telegraph (London) May 19, 2014 Monday Edition 1; National Edition

“It is therefore as the best and most committed Europeans that we can now demand reform: axe the crazed Common Agricultural Policy, scrap the appalling social chapter, get rid of the EU Court's jurisdiction on borders, police, home affairs and human rights”

The Daily Telegraph (London) February 24, 2014 Monday  Edition 1; National Edition

“I generally think small and medium-sized businesses are getting a pretty raw deal. Their business rates are too high, they have to comply with more and more regulations (paternity leave being the latest example), and it now transpires that some banks may actually have conspired to close them down in order to lay their hands on their property, so as to replenish the banks' own balances - and if that is so, then the culprits should be sent to prison.”

The Daily Telegraph, December 2, 2013 Monday Edition 1; National Edition

“Trevor Phillips: so in UKIP-land, there would be no law against discrimination on the grounds of nationality, would there be a law on discrimination on the grounds of race or colour?

Nigel Farage: No. [Pauses] We are colour-blind. We as a party are colour-blind.

Trevor Phillips: We have these laws for a reason you know?”

Nigel Farage would axe 'much of' race discrimination law, 12 March 2015

GMB represents over 640,000 members working in every part of the UK economy.

GMB has released the results of internal polling, which shows that:

  • 4 in 10 members told the GMB that immigration was the most important issue to them – but the same number said that their most important issue was the impact of the EU on security, justice and human rights in the UK.
  • 18-34 year olds told the GMB that security, justice and human rights, jobs and trade, and employment regulations are more important to them in deciding how to vote than immigration.
  • One in three members of the GMB think the best reason to stay in the EU is to protect workplace rights such as paid holiday, parental leave and health & safety at work.


Share this page

Additional Resources