Voice of Workers 'Must be Heard and Heeded' on Brexit
8 Dec 2017
Responding to the joint report on the progress of Brexit negotiations, Patricia King said:
"The Irish Congress of Trade Unions notes the publication of the joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK on progress during Phase 1 of the negotiations for Brexit. This comprehensive report requires detailed analysis and consideration. Given there is now agreement to proceed to Phase 2, we acknowledge the clear commitments from all - in particular the UK - to avoiding any possible hard border on the island of Ireland.
"We have consistently called for the full maintenance and implementation of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, including its commitments to human rights and equality, and we have reiterated on every possible occasion that this agreement must be central to any negotiations as it remains an enabler not an inhibiter to a final agreement. It was important that the all parties to the text reaffirmed their support for this agreement," Ms King said.
"The view of Congress is, and remains, that the best and most logical way to avoid such a hard border is for the UK as a whole to remain in both the single market and customs union. Our colleagues in the TUC fully concur with this view, as indeed do the majority of the business community on these islands. We do not want a harder border on the island of Ireland, nor an economic border with the UK east and west, nor between these islands. It seems to us that the text of this joint report also commits to this and Phase 2 of the negotiations can now commence. It is in this phase that the parties will have to square this circle," she pointed out.
Congress Assistant General Secrerary Owen Reidy added:
"It is essential that the Irish government continues to listen to the voice of the trade union movement on this matter and that the UK government starts to listen to the voice of the trade union movement, both through the ICTU in Northern Ireland and the TUC in the rest of the UK. We have stated from outset that workers must not pay the price of Brexit. There is some way to go in these negotiations and there will be many hurdles to cross. However, we insist that the voice of workers and their interests are heard and heeded," he concluded.