Congress & TUC to meet with Barnier over Brexit Concerns on Border, Jobs & Workers Rights 

7 Mar 2018

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Representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) will meet with Michel Barnier - the European Union’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit -  on Thursday March 8 to press the case for avoiding a 'hard border' in Ireland and to ensure workers’ rights are not sacrificed in any UK exit deal.

The meeting with Mr Barnier will take place in Brussels on Thursday and will follow an engagement between the EU’s Brexit negotiator and the Executive Council of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

The representatives of Congress and the TUC will meet with Mr Barnier separately to discuss concerns over a hard border on the island, the likely impact of Brexit on jobs and the necessity to uphold workers’ rights following the exit of the UK.

The meeting will be attended by Jack O’Connor – who represents Congress at the ETUC – and Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC.

The European Trade Union Confederation is scheduled to adopt a statement at its March meeting, calling for any Brexit deal to maintain workers’ rights and minimise disruption to trade between the EU and the UK. The ETUC statement will declare:

"If labour rights are not properly upheld after Brexit, it will not only damage workers in the UK, but it will have possible devastating effects on workers’ rights in the EU27 and trigger a race to the bottom...A deregulatory drive could potentially reduce the costs of operating businesses in the UK to the detriment of companies in the rest of the EU."

The statement will say that remaining in the European Economic Area would be the best option for working people, in terms of maintaining existing rights.

The ETUC is also concerned that: “…a future deal based on a free trade agreement would reduce trade from current levels (especially in services), add costs in manufacturing and destroy jobs….A Customs Union between the EU and UK would reduce the impact on trade and help to ensure no hard border in Ireland.”