‘WHAT I did is to appeal to the Prime Minister,’ Dave Prentis, leader of Unison said as he came out of number 10 Downing Street after talks with the leadership of his union, the GMB, Unite, the TUC and Tory PM Theresa May.
He said: ‘I appealed to the Prime Minister not just to talk to the right wing of the Tory Party, or the DUP but to look for consensus across the country. To enable us to leave the European Union, maybe stay within a Customs Union which would deal with the Northern Ireland question, and think about those people that Theresa May talked about from this door when she went into number 10, the people who are just managing, because they are the ones who will lose out from walking away from the European Union without a deal.’ He added: ‘The thing we need more than anything is more time, time to get compromises, time to get consensus.’
When asked if the trade union movement is divided, Prentis insisted that it was not. He said: ‘We believe in the Customs Union, and maybe there are different emphases on whether or not there should be a general election or whether there should be a Second Referendum.
‘There are real problems with a Second Referendum. The timing could be six to nine months and we don’t actually know if we could get it through Parliament,
‘So as trade unions and as part of the TUC and as part of the Labour Party we are working in tandem together with very few differences between us.’
However, GMB did not believe the talks were as fruitful. GMB General Secretary Tim Roache said: ‘I’m afraid to say the Prime Minister today failed to give us the guarantees we need over protecting jobs and rights at work.
‘The concerns from members and their employers are mounting by the day as the clock runs down, and yet the Prime Minister is still refusing to take her threat of no deal off the table.
‘We can’t carry on like this. As this crisis worsens, pretending nothing has changed is simply not good enough. The current deal doesn’t cut it. It pleases no one. We need a permanent customs union, legally binding commitments to workers’ rights that can’t be ignored or ripped up by a future Tory government and a policy agenda that tackles the reasons people voted to leave in the first place. I asked for an extension to Article 50 but sadly the Prime Minister did not agree.’