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Powerful GMB film shows hope and fears on EU referendum in people's own words

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Union leader says “72 hours to save workers’ rights”, as powerful GMB film shows hope and fears in people's own words

Watch British workers tell their stories in emotive new film  

Tim Roache, the General Secretary of one of Britain's largest unions, GMB, has warned there are just 72 hours to save workers’ rights, as statements criticising key protections at work made by Leave campaigners have surfaced. 

Leading Leave campaigners have, in the past, cast doubt on EU legislation protecting workers’ rights. Michael Gove described paternity leave as “job destroying” in his column in The Times in 2000, while Boris Johnson in his column in the Daily Telegraph in 2014 said it was time to “root out the nonsense of the social chapter - the working time directive and the atypical work directive and other job-destroying regulations”. 

In 2013, Johnson said small business was getting a “raw deal” with regulations, “paternity leave being the latest example”. Meanwhile Nigel Farage told the BBC he would axe “much of” race discrimination law. 

GMB is calling on the Leave campaign to make its intentions clear before Thursday so its members can make their decision fully informed. 

Tim Roache said:

“In the past, leading figures from the Leave campaign have said they believe EU legislation that protects workers’ rights is ‘job destroying’. Their intentions are absolutely clear. We’ve got just 72 hours to save workers’ rights, by voting to remain in the European Union. For me it’s an angry remain, I recognise Europe is far from perfect but the only way we can rebalance that is to be in the European Union, shaping reform for working people.”

Since April, the union has contacted thousands of its members to understand the real concerns of people in work in Britain. The result was a film that shows the hopes and fears of working people as they make their decision.

You can watch the film here: Watch British workers tell their stories in emotive new film

Joe Morgan, Regional Secretary of GMB Birmingham and West Midlands added:  

"Workers across the West Midlands have told us that they are genuinely concerned about what Brexit would mean for their job security and their rights at work.”

Natalie Haydon-Davis, an electrical worker from Walsall, says:

“I’ve recently gone back to work after having a little boy. Everything was fine for me, I had six months off, it was all okay - I went back to my job as I wanted to do, doing what I wanted to do. My fear is that once the EU goes away, will those rights go away?”

Sam Fagan, a local government worker from Oldbury, says:

“I used to be in the Royal Air Force and then when I left the Air Force I come out and ended up working in a call centre. But in today’s call centre environment they like to work you - they’re often 24/7. If it wasn’t for the EU, I could have been forced to work, weeks and weeks and weeks without a break.”

The union is asking people to consider the impact of Britain leaving the EU for key rights such as maternity and paternity pay, the Working Time Directive, shift patterns and health and safety at work. 

Treasury figures show that 250,000 West Midlands  jobs HM Treasury analysis: the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives, HM Government (April 2016). could be threatened if Britain votes to leave the EU, as 40% of the region’s exports head to Europe Calculated as goods exports to the EU as a share of total goods exports from the West Midlands. Regional Trade Statistics, HM Revenue & Customs (March 2016). - worth around £12bn in total Regional Trade Statistics, HM Revenue & Customs (March 2016). . In the last five years, European companies have invested in over 220 different West Midlands projects, creating or protecting around 16,000 jobs Foreign Direct Investment Projects by UK Region 2010/11 to 2014/15, UK Trade & Investment (February 2016). The West Midlands region is also set to receive nearly £710m of European Regional Development Funding in the period 2014-2020 Estimated in euros by BIS in written question 33071. Sterling estimate using OBR average EUR/GBP exchange rate for 2014-2020 available from table 1.9 of the March 2016 Supplementary Economy Tables., but this will not happen if Britain votes to Leave.


For more information please contact:  press.office@gmb.org.uk or 0207 391 6755.

Or, for more information on the film, including how you can embed for your publication, please speak to:

Mike Harris: mike@89up.org / 0203 411 2891 / 07974 838468
Quotes from Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage:

“Take the question of the Prime Minister’s paternity leave. Mr Blair may be reluctant to take a week off, but his government is considering a statutory obligation on companies to grant employees paid paternity leave. This new legislation would place further burden on those enterprises that are best able to produce new jobs and are least equipped to cope with another bureaucratic regulation. Having shown us that he’s still capable of producing growth in his own domestic product, Mr Blair seems determined to stifle the nation’s. Statutory paternity leave is just one of the battery of job-destroying European measures from the Working Time Directive, to the varied provisions of the social chapter, which remain intact after Lisbon.”

Michael Gove. "The BBC's veil of silence at Lisbon." Times [London, England] 28 Mar. 2000

“We should go into those renegotiations with a clear agenda: to root out the nonsense of the social chapter - the working time directive and the atypical work directive and other job-destroying regulations.”

The Daily Telegraph (London) May 19, 2014 Monday Edition 1; National Edition

“It is therefore as the best and most committed Europeans that we can now demand reform: axe the crazed Common Agricultural Policy, scrap the appalling social chapter, get rid of the EU Court's jurisdiction on borders, police, home affairs and human rights”

The Daily Telegraph (London) February 24, 2014 Monday  Edition 1; National Edition

“I generally think small and medium-sized businesses are getting a pretty raw deal. Their business rates are too high, they have to comply with more and more regulations (paternity leave being the latest example), and it now transpires that some banks may actually have conspired to close them down in order to lay their hands on their property, so as to replenish the banks' own balances - and if that is so, then the culprits should be sent to prison.”

The Daily Telegraph, December 2, 2013 Monday Edition 1; National Edition

“Trevor Phillips: so in UKIP-land, there would be no law against discrimination on the grounds of nationality, would there be a law on discrimination on the grounds of race or colour?
Nigel Farage: No. [Pauses] We are colour-blind. We as a party are colour-blind. 
Trevor Phillips: We have these laws for a reason you know?” 
Nigel Farage would axe 'much of' race discrimination law, 12 March 2015

GMB represents over 640,000 members working in every part of the UK economy. 

The union has released the results of internal polling, which shows that: 

●    4 in 10 members told GMB that immigration was the most important issue to them – but the same number said that their most important issue was the impact of the EU on security, justice and human rights in the UK.
●    18-34 year olds told GMB that security, justice and human rights, jobs and trade, and employment regulations are more important to them in deciding how to vote than immigration.
●    One in three members of GMB think the best reason to stay in the EU is to protect workplace rights such as paid holiday, parental leave and health & safety at work.

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