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Warning Over Workers' Rights Post Brexit

Monday, December 18, 2017



Union says PM must follow through on Lancaster House and Manifesto promises as Ministers plot fresh attack on rights at work.

GMB union today warned Prime Minister Theresa May she must follow through on her pledge to protect workers’ rights after Brexit.

The warning follows reports of a plot by senior Ministers to force her to pull the UK out of the EU Working Time Directive.

Such a move could see 7 million workers in the UK lose rights to paid holidays - 4.7 million of them women, and many on zero-hours and part-time contracts.

GMB, which represents more than 600,000 workers in the public and private sectors, said the Tory plotters’ attempt would put workers’ rights under threat.

In her speech at Lancaster House in January 2017, the Prime Minister said workers' rights would be "fully protected and maintained" as EU law is translated into domestic rules [1].

Meanwhile the 2017 cCnservative manifesto promised to 'enhance workers' rights. [2]

Sunday newspapers yesterday reported plans by ministers – including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – to scrap the Working Time Directive after Brexit.

Losing the protections of the directive could mean:

 - 7 million workers could lose rights to paid holidays – 4.7 million of them women, and many on zero-hours or part-time contracts

 - Even more workers could be forced by bosses to work weeks longer than 48 hours.

 - Workers could lose the right to lunch and rest breaks.

 - Night workers could lose health and safety protections. [3]

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary said:

“Theresa May pledged to protect rights at work after Brexit. Now she needs to follow through.

“What plotting Tory MPs and Ministers really want is to give more control to bosses and less to workers.

“They want an excuse to scrap laws that limit the number of hours people can work, next up will be trying to remove rights to paid holidays and breaks. I don’t remember Vote Leave putting that on the side of a bus.

“Tory true believers will dress the need for an even more ‘flexible’ labour market as allowing people to earn a few extra quid on overtime, but you know what would help workers earn enough to live on? A proper living wage on secure hours, not having to graft for 60 or 70 hours a week just to pay the bills.

“Brexit cannot and must not be used as a Trojan horse to make work even more insecure - that’s not what people voted for.

“If that is what the Government is planning, the public will not forgive them at the ballot box for breaking their promises."


Contact: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to editors

[1] Lancaster House Speech

The government's negotiating objectives for exiting the EU: PM speech (17 January 2017)

7. Protect workers’ rights

“And a fairer Britain is a country that protects and enhances the rights people have at work.That is why, as we translate the body of European law into our domestic regulations, we will ensure that workers rights are fully protected and maintained.”

[2] The 2017 Conservative Manifesto said; 'We will not only guarantee but enhance workers' rights and protections.' (p9)

[3] Ministers’ plot could slash paid holidays for 7 million workers, says TUC

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