TUC GENERAL secretary Frances O’Grady this week re-hashed all the arguments used by the TUC before the 2016 referendum that only by remaining captive in the EU could workers’ rights be protected by judges in Brussels.
To their huge shock the working class overwhelmingly rejected these threats but this hasn’t prevented the TUC from again peddling the myth that EU laws have ‘protected’ the rights of workers.
Both the TUC and Labour Party have demanded that any deal about Brexit would only be acceptable if the Tories gave a legally binding agreement to maintaining in law all existing and future laws relating to workers’ rights in Europe.
May, attempting to win them over to her exit deal, proposed that MPs would be allowed to vote on whether or not to take on board any new EU rules on workers’ rights rather than these rules being automatically written into UK law.
O’Grady this week denounced May’s proposals as ‘blatant window dressing’ and that they meant that after Brexit, Parliament would decide what rules are ‘most appropriate’ rather than automatically accepting them.
O’Grady said: ‘Working people need a cast-iron, legal guarantee that rights will be safe after Brexit, and that guarantee should be written into the deal.’
The issue O’Grady refuses to address is that if the EU is such a workers’ paradise, why are French workers and youth rising up against president Macron and his proposals to smash every right they have previously enjoyed?
EU laws have not prevented Macron from attempting to strip workers of the right to legal action against unfair dismissal or his intention to cut wages and raise the retirement age. Similarly, EU laws in no way protected Greek workers from savage austerity measures forced on the country by the very EU that O’Grady insists works for the benefit of all workers.
Austerity was imposed in order to repay and rescue not the working class but the German and French banks, with Brussels taking on the role of debt collectors for private banks, forcing states like Greece to take on more debt repayments.
EU laws did nothing to prevent the Tories in Britain from imposing wage cuts, zero-hours contracts and all the other austerity cuts that have left over four million children living in poverty in Britain today and public sector workers relying on the charity of food banks to survive.
It is not workers’ rights that the EU protects but the rights of the bosses and bankers. It was EU laws demanding open competition for public service contracts that led the way for the Tories to privatise Royal Mail and the railway network and made it a legal requirement for the NHS to allow the privateers to take over.
But none of this matters to O’Grady and the TUC for the simple reason that they can hide behind these laws, which are ignored every day of the week across Europe, and absolve themselves from any responsibility for actually fighting the Tories and defending jobs, wages and public services.
As an added bonus, these laws guarantee the union bureaucrats a seat at the table along with the bosses in joint European works councils where they can enjoy all the perks and status of real ‘players’ in European capitalism.
These union bosses don’t care about the conditions of workers – all they are concerned about is remaining in a reactionary corporatist alliance with the bosses.
Nothing must be allowed to disturb the good life enjoyed by these bureaucrats and they are determined to cling on to it by knifing the referendum result and keeping the working class enslaved to the bankers and bosses. Workers will reject with contempt O’Grady’s reactionary myth of the EU as a workers’ paradise.
The demand now must be to remove this politically corrupt trade union leadership that has sold itself completely to capitalism and replace it with a new revolutionary leadership that will organise mass action to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government.
A workers’ government will immediately break with the EU and join with the working class of Europe in the struggle to smash the rule of capitalism through the victory of the European Socialist Revolution.