Post-Brexit Employment Rights and Trade Deals: Glasgow

Speakers focused on threats to employment law posed by Brexit, as well as possible mitigations and improvements achievable during EU negotiations.

16th November 2017

About the Conference

Despite verbal assurances from the government, no protection for workers’ rights has yet been set in stone. As such, EU laws including the Working Time Directive, rights around holiday pay, and equality protections could now be at risk.

The Great Repeal Bill has been criticised for providing the government with too many sweeping “Henry VIII” powers – that is, the ability to amend thousands of laws without even debating them in parliament. These powers could allow politicians to water down workers’ rights. There are also fears that case law derived from the EU could be overturned by British judges if they are challenged following the UK’s exit from the bloc.

As a result, there have been widespread calls for workers’ rights derived from the EU to be added to the UK statute in primary legislation, which would prevent them from being amended or overturned without a parliamentary vote. However, the Conservative Party has thus far refused to do so.

Once it leaves the EU, the UK will also need to sign new international trade deals with countries and blocs around the globe. In many of these negotiations, the government is expected to face pressure to enter into a race to the bottom on workers’ rights and to agree to ‘corporation-friendly’ terms that could deepen economic inequalities as well as push the UK towards greater privatisation of public services such as the NHS.

What kind of deal can Scottish workers get out of Brexit? With details from the Tory government being sparse, and with some elements of employment rights devolved to the Scottish government, how will the political and industrial landscape change as a result of Britain’s exit from the EU? With another independence referendum potentially on the
horizon, how could rights for workers look, depending on that result and its implications?

At this one-day conference, some of the UK’s leading academics, lawyers and campaigners will discuss the threats to employment law posed by Brexit, as well as proposing ideas for how workers’ rights can be protected and even improved upon during the negotiations with the EU, as well as in future trade deals.


Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign
Brexit’s effects on H&S & trade deals

Prof. Keith Ewing, IER
Workers’ rights in post-Brexit trade deal Britain. Is there a better way?

Ruth Dukes, Glasgow University
Scotland: Setting the post-Brexit UK agenda or going independent?

Vince Mills, Scottish Labour Left
Scotland and Brexit

Jackson Cullinane, Unite
Trade Union priorities in Scotland post-Brexit

Jane Carolon, UNISON
Trade union rights in trade deals

Robin White, Old Square Chambers
Equality legislation before and after Brexit

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