#STUC16 The STUC is to launch a campaign promoting the employment rights the EU has delivered for working people and will oppose attempts to ‘water down the benefits of a Social Europe.’
It also rejected calls to campaign to leave the EU.
Backing the USDAW motion, UNISON NEC member Gordon McKay explained why the union’s leadership had decided to campaign in the referendum to stay in the EU while also fighting for reform to create a fair and social Europe.
When UNISON consulted its members, 95% of them said that the EU was very important to them and two subjects above all were their priorities, public services and workers’ rights.
“That is why UNISON will be campaigning for a recommending a vote to remain in the EU”, said Gordon, but he warned: “Let us be clear about what we are not supporting. It is not the EU of Cameron’s Tories, it is not the EU of austerity, it is not the EU of undemocratic unaccountability.
“UNISON will work to amend and reform the EU. We want to see a fair and social Europe. As trade unionists we want a Europe that protects workers. We do that by working with our brothers and sisters throughout Europe. We do it by working with our political allies, not by walking away from our friends.
“A social Europe has made a real difference to people’s lives.”
Gordon asked delegates: “Can anyone in this room remember one piece of legislation from Tory governments in the last forty years that improved employment rights and enhanced workers’ lives?”
“We hear day after day from Johnson, Gove and Farage that the problems facing the British economy are not due to the tax avoiding, avaricious asset strippers of hedge funds and global capital, but to unnecessary regulation. What they mean is that it is due to the home carer, the nurse and the community worker.
“The problems, say the right wing alliance, are caused by these low paid British workers receieving too much annual leave, too much maternity leave and not enough working a 60 hour week.”
There will, of course still be a Tory government after the referendum.
“The question is whether there will be a Tory government who, however much they whine and rant, will still be forced by the EU to maintain social and employment rights on annual leave, maternity and paternity leave, equal pay for work of equal value, agency workers and working time”, said Gordon.
“Or if there will be a Tory government who, out of the EU, can bundle these rights together on a funeral pyre and set them alight.”
That was the key question. Gordon added: “UNISON wants to see a better Europe and a better world. We do that by engagement and solidarity, not isolationism.”