date: Tuesday 12 April 2016
embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 13 April 2016
Brexit would be a “huge gamble” with Northern Ireland’s future, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will warn when she addresses the Accord finance trade union’s annual conference in Belfast later today (Wednesday).
Frances will tell delegates that leaving the European Union could undermine stability:
“A Leave vote not only threatens Northern Ireland’s economy, it could be politically divisive too.
"Today, whatever different traditions and beliefs communities may hold, they share a common identity as citizens of the EU.
“There are too many unanswered questions about what Brexit would mean for everything from border controls to EU funded peace projects.
“Politicians of all stripes must not be complacent about the community stability that it has taken decades for trade unions and other grassroots groups to help build.
“Brexit would be a huge gamble with Northern Ireland’s future.”
Frances will warn that jobs and workplace rights are on the line:
“More than 100,000 private sector jobs in Northern Ireland – one in seven – are linked to trade with the European Union.
“Brexit would put these at risk – especially in sectors like finance and manufacturing.
“But we also need to talk about the threat to workers’ rights. Many of the employment protections we take for granted – parental leave, equal treatment for agency workers and part-timers, paid holidays – are underpinned by EU law.
“The Working Time Directive gave millions of UK workers paid holidays for the first time in their lives. And millions more gained an increase in paid leave days to spend with their families.
“Ultimately, the Brexit camp has to answer this question: if we left the EU, can they guarantee that the Conservative government will keep and protect these employment rights? I certainly wouldn’t trust them to.”
Frances will warn that ordinary people are being excluded from the EU referendum debate:
“The interests of workers must be at the heart of the debate. But that’s just not happening at the moment.
“My fear is that people are switching off because all they are hearing is the language of business and very little about how Brexit could impact upon their lives.
“It is the votes of ordinary people that will decide the outcome of the referendum – not the City of London.
“And how Northern Ireland’s 240,000 trade union members cast their ballots could be crucial.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews
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