Trade Unionist Argues Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Could Lead To Worker Exploitation

26 October 2019, 10:58

Paul Nowak, the Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, doesn't trust Boris Johnson's government and fears workers could be exploited once we leave the EU.

Andrew Castle said: "Fears over post-Brexit workers’ rights, leaked papers shows plan to diverge from the EU. I don't know whether you've seen that or not but how worried are you going forward about workers' rights changing after we leave the EU, if we leave the EU?"

Paul Nowak replied: "Very concerned because we've said all along that what the Government hasn't brought forward in its deal or indeed in Theresa May's deal was legally-binding guarantees on employment rights now and into the future.

"And this Andrew is a classic example, if you think about the regulations around night work - the Working Time Directive, which prevents people being exploited when they do work at night.

This is a piece of legislation that is rooted in Europe and that FT article that you refer to today absolutely exposes the government's intention to diverge from those key employment social protections that we get from Europe."

Andrew asked: "So you don't trust our government to look after our workers?"

Trade Unionist Argues Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Could Lead To Worker Exploitation
Trade Unionist Argues Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Could Lead To Worker Exploitation. Picture: PA

Nowak replied: "I don't trust Boris Johnson and the Conservatives with employment rights.

"I really don't and I don't trust them because of their track record over the last few years. This is the Government for example that introduced me tribunal fees, priced tens of thousands of people out of work.

They're also on the record saying that they want to, you know, deregulate things like the Working Time Directive."

Andrew said: "The trouble is, Paul, that there's there's a tonne of people trying to run businesses and there's a bunch of freeloaders who go to an industrial tribunal, they threaten their employer, and the employer has to find thousands of pounds of fees to defend totally spurious claims. So I mean, let's be honest, there is a balance to be to be struck here."

Nowak replied: "There's always a balance to be struck but that's just not an accurate picture of what's happened out there, Andrew.

"We know there are tens of thousands of people out there every year who don't get paid for the shifts that they do, who get unfairly dismissed, who get discriminated against.

"My final point with this with, Andrew, the surest guarantee for anybody to protect their employment rights and to be treated fairly at work, whether the work at night or not, is to join a trade union.

And I'd encourage everybody who's listening today to do exactly that."