Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Lord Harris – a multi-millionaire, retail tycoon and Tory peer – claimed that Brexit would ‘give younger people more opportunity’ because they could work longer hours in his shops.
“We can only keep our staff on for 35 hours a week,” the Carpetright founder complained. In other words, his problem with the EU is that it gives workers too many rights.
Although he doesn’t even understand the laws he’s so keen to be rid of, since the European Working Time Directive actually sets a limit of 48 hours a week on the amount someone can be required to work.
It’s not a restrictive regulation or an attack on business, it’s a common sense law that protects people from being forced to work unhealthy hours.
Since the vote for Brexit, the government has brushed off concerns that working people will be worse off outside the EU. Theresa May has promised to “ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained”.
But time and again, senior Tories have undermined that promise, couching their support for Brexit in attacks on workers rights.
And we’re getting to crunch time on this issue. Next month, the government will present its Repeal Bill to parliament. The bill is supposed to transfer about 12,000 EU regulations into British law, but trade unions are concerned that working rights will be diluted in the process.
As Tories continue to publicly denounce workers’ rights legislation, vague promises from government simply aren’t good enough.
Working people need a concrete guarantee that their rights are safe from the likes of Lord Harris.