Saturday

6th Mar 2021

British unions warn Cameron over EU referendum

  • Cameron is warned by unions, 'Don't take our vote for granted' (Photo: Number 10)

Leading British trade unions say their members would vote No in an EU referendum if Prime Minister David Cameron undermines employment safeguards in renegotiating the UK’s EU membership, as a new poll shows growing support for a "Brexit".

Delegates of leading unions at the annual TUC congress on Tuesday (15 September) backed a statement warning Cameron not to weaken workers' rights as he renegotiates the UK's EU membership.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The TUC has traditionally been pro-EU as their members have benefitted from European workers' protection and foreign investment stemming from the UK's access to European markets.

But in recent years unions have become cautious with the EU's handling of the economic crisis with a drive for austerity and its negotiations of free trade agreements.

"We hope that Cameron's efforts to weaken workers' rights will fail," Steve Turner, the Assistant General Secretary of the Unite Union said on Tuesday, "but if they do not, we are issuing a warning to the Prime Minister – you will lose our members' votes to stay in the EU by worsening workers' rights."

Unions are also worried that the Tory government wants to secure a permanent opt-out from the European working time directive that mandates a maximum working week of 48 hours.

Brexit ahead

The unions' warning comes as a poll showed British voters edging towards a Brexit.

The ICM poll - the first since the referendum question was changed to whether voters want to remain in the EU – gives the 'In' campaign just a 3 percent lead over those who want to leave.

It is down from a larger margin of 11 per cent before the change in text.

The poll found that 43 per cent of voters would want to stay in the EU, while 40 per cent would vote to leave.

Another poll showed last week those in favor of leaving the bloc leading by 51 percent to 49 percent.

The ICM poll also showed 17 percent of people are still undecided.

The referendum will be held before the end of 2017.

Cameron defeated on EU referendum bill

Eurosceptic Tories and Labour MPs voted against changing campaign rules to allow ministers and civil servants to express views ahead of EU referendum.

EU commission sets up Brexit unit

The commission has appointed a special team for relations with the UK in the run-up to its in/out referendum.

Cameron belittles EU institutions

The British PM bashed the EU for being “too bossy” in a speech Wednesday, but gave few details on plans for European reform.

Coronavirus

Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop

The World Health Organization warned of a surge in new coronavirus infections across Europe, pointing out healthcare systems should not be under pressure in some countries. Meanwhile, the European Medical Agency is reviewing Russia's Sputnik vaccine.

EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account

MEPs probing the EU's border agency Frontex cross-examined the agency's director. They also spoke to EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, who made it clear she had little sway over the agency.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us