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Brexit and workers’ rights… October 20, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This point is so obvious that in some ways it’s perhaps a sign of just how much of a rupture Brexit has proven to be, even without being actually triggered, that it’s only now being arrived at. We’ve noted the potential for the disruption and removal of workers’ rights in the UK, but what about closer to home?

Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), said it could spark a push by companies here to cut wages and labour costs, placing huge pressure on workers.
“In order to bring down the price of trading, companies will…believe that they are forced to pay less, or bring down their labour costs,” Ms King told a UK House of Lords inquiry examining the impact of Brexit on UK-Irish relations.
“That will put huge pressure here, and indeed in Northern Ireland, on workers.”

And this makes perfect sense. We’ve long argued here that one of the key reasons to have good standards of pay and conditions in the public sector is precisely because it has an exemplary effect on other parts of the labour market. It provides, as it were, a standard against which other areas can be measured. And improved too. This has been one of the reasons for the continual attacks against the PS by various economic and employers groups across the years. Weaken them and that weakens everyone sooner or later.

And similarly we can see how a Britain in an economic slide can have significant exemplary effects upon workers on this island and in this state. I have to be honest, I despair at this point. This is turning into such a disaster – first and foremost for workers – that it is difficult not to see it as perhaps the defining reactionary moment of the past two or three decades – in part because it operates across such a broad range of areas simultaneously, culturally, socially, economically, politically.

BTW, yet more depressing stuff from the House of Lords inquiry:

John McGrane, director general of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, said that it was unrealistic to think there wouldn’t be some form of a Border on the island after Britain leaves the EU.
“We don’t know of any technology that is so advanced that it can tell us the contents of a vehicle without the driver having to declare in a quite traditional way,” Mr McGrane said.
“So there are a lot of fanciful ideas out there that say nothing much is going to change, the Border issue being just one of them.”


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