Unite the Union

Unite the Union

September 12, 2007 12:20 ET

Unite backs calls for increased worker protection in Europe

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 12, 2007) - The UK's largest trade union has backed calls for a referendum on the new European Treaty in order to strengthen worker protections.

In a vote at the TUC Congress this afternoon, Unite voted in support of a resolution by the GMB calling for a referendum on Europe.

Unite says the move is not inspired by anti-Europeanism but because of the opt-outs from the European provisions mean that UK workers are exempted from European labour laws and worker protections.

Derek Simpson, Joint General Secretary of Unite, said:

"UK workers need a progressive Europe, a Europe that offers them protections and social justice, not a selective Europe that just advances the interests of big business. We also need to see an end to the opt outs that make UK workers second class citizens."

Tony Woodley said Unite is not anti-Europe and would die sooner than associate with UKIP or the Tories:

"But we don't want to be part of a Europe that discards the social model that can bring so many benefits to working men and women across Europe.

"If the Government wants to have a social opt-out, we should demand a democratic opt-in. If anyone thinks the British people want a free market Europe with no protection for workers, then I say put it to the vote and find out."

Adopting a pro-European position, Unite opposed another motion proposed by the RMT that called for a referendum but crucially also for a campaign in support of a no vote.

Contact Information

  • Unite press office
    Catherine Bithell
    07958 473 224 or 07976 832 156
    Unite press office
    Andrew Dodgshon
    07958 473 224 or 07976 832 156