UK workers would vote to stay part of Europe
Polling undertaken by Unions21 – and published today (Friday) to coincide with its 20th anniversary conference – suggests that in any future referendum on the EU, UK workers would vote to stay part of Europe.
Of the full and part-time employees questioned by Survation as part of the Unions21 Fair Work Commission, 45% said they would vote to stay in the EU compared to 41% who indicated they would vote to leave.
Writing in the Fair Work Commission’s first report, to be launched at the conference at the TUC’s Congress House later today, TUC President Lesley Mercer says:
“Social Europe has provided working people with more equality, more protection from redundancy, and more information about what’s happening at their workplace, as well as a shorter working week and paid holidays. Any move to repatriate powers can only be but a smokescreen to take these EU rights away from working people, and make them work longer hours for less pay.”
When asked how they might feel about losing some of these rights should the UK government leave the EU or renegotiate the terms of our membership, almost three-quarters (74%) of those questioned said they would be either very concerned or somewhat concerned at such a move. Just 26% were either somewhat unconcerned or very unconcerned at the potential loss of the workplace rights.
Commenting on the survey, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady – who is also speaking at the Unions21 conference – said: “Europe has given us many rights at work but if the Prime Minister gets his way and repatriates workplace rights like flexible working, limits on excessive working hours and paid holidays, these could soon disappear.
“The danger is that just as this government has already made it easier for employers to sack people and more difficult for wronged employees to get justice, so will the many workplace rights which started out in Europe be in jeopardy if we leave the EU or our terms of membership are changed.”
The poll findings suggest that the British workforce is less Eurosceptic than the public at large –a previous Survation poll (06/01/13) found only 36% of the general public would vote to keep Britain in the EU, compared to 54% who would want to leave.
The study also found that the UK’s workforce have concerns over their employment rights. Three quarters (74%) of respondents were worried that rules regarding anti-discrimination, working hours and parental leave would be affected if Britain left the EU.
Backing this up, when asked about what unions should be focusing their attention on, survey respondents cited protection against bad employers and job security as the most important function for unions, alongside concerns about pay.