General Election the only way out of May’s Brexit dog’s dinner

Union Matters

An extraordinary outbreaking of wishful thinking by No. 10 that throwing a few bones to the trade union movement could allay deep-seated fears of a bonfire of worker rights post-Tory Brexit has prompted a withering response from the CWU.

Responding to yesterday’s remarkable news that the Prime Minister has begun a ring-round of trade union leaders in a desperate bid secure any support she can for her widely derided Brexit deal, CWU general secretary Dave Ward stressed the PM would be given short shrift when and if she gets round to him.

Explaining the CWU’s position to the media, he said: “At no point in the last two and a half years has the Prime Minister asked to speak to anyone at the CWU about protecting workers rights after Brexit – and there’s no clearer signal of her priorities than this.

“The old motto remains as true as always – when it comes to workers’ rights, you can never trust a Tory. This latest development is nothing other than a pathetic last-ditch attempt to win a handful of votes for May’s disastrous withdrawal agreement.”

The Government’s last ditch attempt to reach out to the trade union movement – a move which has been accompanied by parallel efforts to engage with Labour MP’s on the issue of workers rights – is all the more remarkable given Theresa May’s abject lack of engagement with the labour movement to date.

Last year TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady revealed that she’d only met the PM once since she came to power – an observation echoed by GMB general secretary Tim Roache, one of the union leaders receiving calls from No. 10 yesterday.

“After nearly three years I’m glad the prime minister finally picked up the phone,” Mr Roache observes in The Independent today.

“As you would expect, I was very clear about GMB’s position – the [Brexit] deal on the table isn’t good enough and non-binding assurances on workers’ rights won’t cut it.”

Commenting on the Government’s cynical and apparently panic-induced attempts to seek any support it can from the Labour benches advance of next Tuesday’s critical vote, CWU general secretary Dave Ward concludes: “Any Labour MP considering siding with the Government over this meaningless promise should take a hard look at themselves. The only thing that will deliver protection for the basic rights that already exist – and extend on them – will be the election of a Corbyn government.”