Why I'm marching for the future as a trade unionist
PUBLISHED: 14:42 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:42 12 October 2018
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On October 20th I'll be joining thousands of others at the People's Vote March for the Future. I'll be marching with my trade union, Community, to defend our rights and protections at work.
The rights and protections the EU has afforded people working in the UK are clear. They extend all the way from statutory maternity leave to banning discrimination based on your race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability or age. What is even clearer, is the risk to our rights and protections at work if we leave the EU, with this Conservative government at the helm.
Both Dominic Raab and Theresa May have promised to protect workers rights. However, if this crop of elected leaders - the Brexit Elite - have taught me anything, it is that we must always consider people’s beliefs and their actions, not their empty promises.
And what do the leading Leavers believe? What actions have they taken? Dominic Raab, is a long standing critic of the Working Time Directive, a protection which ensures paid holiday and a limit to working hours. Boris Johnson believes that EU employment regulations are “back breaking” and that we should “scrap the social chapter”, which ensures equal opportunities and adequate working conditions. Even Michael Gove, now brandished a ‘traitor’ by other Brexiteers for his support of Chequers, urged the Confederation of British Industry to draw up a list of regulations that should be abolished when we leave the EU.
It is clear that this Government will tear up workers rights at any opportunity, their history proves that. In 2013, the Tories doubled the waiting period for unfair dismissals, they brought in tribunal fees which asked working people to pay up to £1,200 for being discriminated against or for not being paid their wages. In 2016, through the Trade Union Act the government made it harder for trade unions to protect people at work by curtailing their ability to organise in workplaces and implementing a 50 per cent threshold for strike action.
Time and again, Boris and his cronies have given working people a reason not to trust them. Whether it be their tactics of purposeful deceit during the referendum, their history of hacking away at workers rights or their hatred of EU employment regulations and their eagerness to take them apart.
The reason that despite all their promises, the Brexiteers beliefs and actions should worry us all, is the Henry VIII powers the EU Withdrawal Bill allows for. They mean that on our departure from the EU, without scrutiny of Parliament, the government will be able to make changes to legislation. They can promise the world, secure the deal they want, and still strip away our rights and protections at work before next Christmas.
Whether you voted Leave or Remain, one thing is clear; this isn’t what people signed up for. The gap between the promises of the two years ago, and what’s being delivered on people’s doorsteps grows ever wider. Nobody voted to be poorer, or to have less rights and protections for themselves and their families.
If, like me, you believe working people deserve fair wages, paid holiday and to not be discriminated against at work, then join me on 20th October at the People’s Vote March for the Future.
• Melantha Chittenden is a trade unionist with Community and a For our Future’s Sake supporter.