As the threat of a ‘no deal’ hard Brexit rises, union leaders in the UK and Japan have issued an urgent call for the government to change its approach to Brexit so that a future deal with the EU guarantees workers’ rights and protects jobs.
Today the leaders of the TUC and RENGO, our sister union federation in Japan, released a joint statement highlighting the threats to workers, trade and investment that would result from a bad Brexit deal.
Investment by Japanese companies supports thousands of good jobs in the UK, especially in manufacturing, research and services. In the North East of England alone, Japanese companies employ 13,700 people across a range of sectors.
Japanese companies have invested so heavily in the UK because it offers a barrier-free and tariff-free gateway to the rest of the EU.
And the UK’s membership of the single market is a very important part of this trading relationship, because Japanese firms with big factories in the UK – such as the major car companies – sell most of what they make here to other EU countries.
Uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit has already led to concern among these companies regarding future investment in the UK – and it may have an impact upon employment.
That’s why it’s crucial for the government to negotiate a Brexit deal that will allow Japanese companies to trade with the EU without barriers or tariffs.
And it’s why TUC and RENGO leaders are clear today that any Brexit deal must keep the same levels of employment rights in the UK as the EU, which will help to stop undercutting and exploitation.
We believe the best way forward is for the UK to remain a member of the single market and a customs union, although we are open to other options.
In the shadow of growing global protectionism, unions in the UK and Japan are speaking up for fair free trade with rules and standards that will create decent jobs, high skills and good wages for all.
As the future trading relationship between the UK and Japan is so uncertain right now, a trade deal between the two countries seems a long way off.
But the TUC and RENGO agree that any future deal must put creating good jobs and protecting workers’ rights and public services at its heart.
And it must not include unfair Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms that would infringe the rights of governments and other public institutions in both the UK and Japan to legislate on workers’ rights, public services, welfare and the environment.
And it’s essential that the UK and Japanese government involve trade unions in negotiations to make sure a future deal between the UK and Japan delivers for working people.
Trade unions in Japan and the UK are clear: we need an end to the Brexit uncertainties that are putting jobs and investment on the line.