We’re going to hear a lot about Europe from the Tories this year. Cameron wants a referendum… his backbenchers want one sooner… and they all want to “re-negotiate, re-negotiate, re-negotiate".
But when they talk about negotiating in Europe to cut red tape, and bring powers back to the UK, what do they mean?
The Tories want us to think that Cameron’s marching off to the EU to re-negotiate the UK’s relationship in our interest.
But the truth is that Cameron and the Tories are setting out to do a deal that will go against the interests of working people. Their top priority in this re-negotiation is to try to scrap many crucial rights that working people rely on.
These are just some of the hundreds of rights at work that have been negotiated between European governments, and are guaranteed by European Law; all these rights and more could be at risk if Cameron gets his way:
- Four weeks paid leave.
- Rights for mums, like the right not to be sacked for being pregnant, or time off for ante-natal appointments.
- Equal treatment for workers employed through an agency.
- Tea and lunch breaks during the working day, and the right to a day off a week.
But don’t just take my word for it. Cameron himself has said:
"I do not believe it is appropriate for social and employment legislation to be dealt with at the European level.
It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control."
Cameron says he wants to negotiate a ‘new settlement’ in Europe. He makes it sound like this will be a good deal for people in Britain; but you only have to scratch the surface to see that what he really wants is to tear our rights at work apart.
He claims to have a vision for the future of Europe. But it sounds like that vision means turning the clock back to the days before working people had their rights guaranteed. Yes, we need to see changes in the way the EU works, we need a greater focus on boosting jobs and trade, but Cameron's plan is about stripping away our rights.
That’s why I’m backing unionstogether’s new campaign to get the Tories to come clean about what their ‘re-negotiation’ means, and that’s why I’ve signed their letter to Cameron asking him to stop negotiating to tear our rights at work apart.
Will you sign it too?
Our rights at work are not 'red tape' to be slashed away. Don’t let Cameron and the Tories get away with this great European scam.
Glenis Willmott MEP
Leader, European Parliamentary Labour Party