(18 January 2021) The ink is hardly dry on the EU – UK trade and cooperation agreement (TCA) that was agreed end December and already the UK Government is indicating that hard-won workers rights are going to be diluted.
Reacting to a Financial Times report on UK Government plans to diverge from the Working Time Directive, ETUC said: “This is the first major test of the Brexit deal.”
The TCA contains a ‘non-regression clause’ committing both parties not to reduce existing workers’ protections post Brexit. The Working Time Directive is one of the cornerstones of the EU’s social acquis, guaranteeing every worker limits on his/her working time and the right to paid annual paid leave. These protections are essential to ensure that competition is not based on social dumping and exploitative labour practices. EPSU stands with its UK affiliates against those anti-worker policies.
The TCA has provisions to monitor and enforce commitments that are made. These will need to be sufficiently robust to prevent future diverges. The European Parliament, that still has to give consent to the TCA, can still push for guarantees to strengthen enforcement mechanisms.