Campaigners fear workers’ rights in the crosshairs of Tory Queen’s Speech


New report warns Great Repeal Bill will mean a “decimation of rights”

ACADEMICS and campaigners have warned the Queen’s Speech tomorrow (Wednesday 21 June) will be used by Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory minority government to attack workers’ and human rights.

Global Justice Now (GJN) and Another Europe is Possible (AEiP) released a report claiming Brexit measures could see a roll back on workers’ rights,  including on working time regulations and anti-discrimination measures and human rights, including those which ensure the right to privacy and prohibit participation in torture regimes.

The UK Government has said its Great Repeal Bill will allow for the transfer of rights from EU to UK law, however campaigners say it is designed to allow that process to be selective.

The report, titled Decimating Rights: The Consequences of the Great Repeal Bill, also claims that environmental protection, consumer rights and financial regulation are also under threat in the speech.

GJN Director Nick Dearden said: “EU law incorporates some of our most cherished protections and rights, as well as rules that, for instance, prevent our government from selling products that can be used in torture overseas. Giving Theresa May the powers of a renaissance monarch to translate these rights and protections into British law is terrifying, as it enables her government to change the way these laws work in fundamental ways, without parliamentary scrutiny.

“Labour and the SNP are committed to repealing the Trade Union Act, something which should also gain support from the other opposition parties.” Grahame Smith STUC

“We need enhanced, not reduced, democratic oversight of this process. If parliament cannot achieve this scrutiny, we urge it to vote down the whole Great Repeal Bill.”

The Queen’s Speech traditionally marks the official opening of parliament, and allows the government to put forward its legislative agenda for the coming year.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will see the governmental agenda for 2017-2019 announced as May’s weakened government seeks to lay out its plans for removing the UK from the EU.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will present an alternative agenda, including calls to abandon austerity measures. Labour opposed the Great Repeal Bill during the General Election campaign.

Calling on leftwing parties to scuttle attacks on workers rights, general secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress Grahame Smith said: “Labour and the SNP are committed to repealing the Trade Union Act, something which should also gain support from the other opposition parties.

“As a matter of priority, the opposition must work together to get this draconian piece of legislation removed from the statute book – but also to revisit the legislation on union recognition to make it easier for unions to organise.

“Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have all committed to end the use of zero hour contracts and to scrap tribunal fees and there is a strong possibility of making progress in increasing the minimum wage to the real living wage, of action on the gender pay gap and of improving the employment rights for workers in the gig economy.

“I have written today to Jeremy Corbyn to urge him make the repeal of the Trade Union Act and improvements in workers’ rights a priority in the Labour Party’s Alternative Queen’s Speech. It is essential that unions are given the opportunity to organise in many more workplaces. Too many employers exploit the absence of a union to apply appalling work practices that degrade workers, undermine the quality of work, and create poverty for many across the country.

Read more –  Red Tory Manifesto? How Conservative policy will impact the working class

“I have also called on the SNP and other opposition parties in Westminster to work together to achieve advances in union and workers’ rights and to support the vital work that unions do.”

During a speech at Mansion House earlier today, Chancellor Philip Hammond said that he would make the economy the priority during Brexit negotiations, in comments markedly different from May.

Last week Hammond criticised the Tory election campaign for failing to focus on the economy.

The Head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said that Brexit would make people in the UK poorer.

Ahead of a queens speech that is expected to endorce continued austerity measures, Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said that Hammond “has not heard the message” from the country in the General Election, especially over pressure on public services and falling wages.

Some Conservative MPs have called on the government to move away from austerity measures after the party’s loss of its House of Commons majority on 8 June.

Picture courtesy of UK Parliament

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