11 November 2016
In a Commons debate earlier this week (07 November 2016), opposition parties pushed the Conservatives to give assurances that workers’ rights will be written into primary legislation when the UK leaves the EU to prevent their weakening, but the Tories said this would be a matter for debate.
Clive Lewis, Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pointed out that while some Tory Ministers claim no workers’ rights will be lost after Brexit, others have taken the opposite view.
“What we did not hear from the Secretary of State was any promise or guarantee that employment legislation will not, once it comes out of international law, simply go into secondary law. We want to see it in primary law, and our concern is that once it goes into secondary law, the Government will use statutory instruments to undermine employment law and workers’ rights, and that is not what we want to see,” he explained.
“While I welcome now, as I have before, the Government’s recent apparent Damascene conversion when it comes to workers’ rights, I cannot but remain sceptical about how deep it goes,” he added, highlighting that the Tory party earlier this year enacted the Trade Union Act 2016 – which seriously and unjustifiably weakens the powers of trade unions to protect workers – and that the government has elsewhere imposed barriers to workers’ access to justice and reduced their rights at work.
Responding to the debate, Minister for Exiting the European Union David Jones said that whether workers’ rights will be written into primary or secondary legislation will be a matter for debate during the Great Repeal Bill.