Unions: Workers must be protected in the event of no-deal Brexit

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has warned of the consequences for workers of a no-deal Brexit.

Unions: Workers must be protected in the event of no-deal Brexit

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has warned of the consequences for workers of a no-deal Brexit.

The General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King, who was attending the All-Island Civic Dialogue in Dublin today, said a no-deal- Brexit "cuts right across the letter and spirit" of the Good Friday Agreement and the North's peace process.

It comes as the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, dismissed reports that Ireland may be forced to comply with checks on exports to mainland Europe in the event of a Brexit no-deal.

Today’s All-Ireland Civic Dialogue at Dublin Castle is discussing the all-island implications of Brexit involving trade unions, business groups, non-governmental organisations and political parties from across the island.

Ms King said: “We are now six weeks away from the UK exiting the EU and with each passing day a ‘no deal’ Brexit is looking more likely. As a body that represents the interests of over 800,000 workers across the island of Ireland we are seriously concerned about the political, social and economic implications of such a ‘no deal’ Brexit for workers and their families across the island.

"It has the potential to set back and further undermine important North/South and East/West relations for some time, which also undermines strand 2 and 3 of the Agreement."

She said that in the absence of an alternative arrangement that meets the requirements of the EU and the UK to seek a soft Brexit, “we believe the draft Withdrawal Agreement needs to be considered again by the House of Commons".

The General Secretary said: “We need to ensure that workers rights’ and conditions of employment are protected in any post Brexit scenario north and south of the border and that when devolution returns in Northern Ireland the Assembly maintains decent worker’s rights and labour standards by implementing EU directives in these areas.

“In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit it is critical that the Irish government intensifies its ongoing engagement with the ICTU and other social partners in responding to such an emergency situation. It is also essential that the UK government set up and implement our proposal for a Forum for Social Dialogue in Northern Ireland whereby we can seek to mitigate the worst consequences of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit for workers and others.

"Both the UK and Irish government will need to respond to such an economic emergency by setting up appropriate Brexit Adjustment Assistance Funds (BAAF) in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland respectively."

"This is critical to meet the challenges of job and economic displacement. We must ensure that workers across this island do not pay the price of Brexit”.

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