Congress statement on UK Brexit vote

16 Jan 2019


Responding to the rejection of the draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK government and the EU in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15th January 2019, Patricia King, General Secretary of the ICTU stated, “while we all anticipated the rejection of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in the UK parliament, this vote brings us all closer to a no deal crash out Brexit which is unacceptable, given the damage it will do to Northern Ireland and the consequential collateral damage to the Republic of Ireland.

It is incumbent on the British political establishment to now develop a consensus that is also acceptable to the EU, to protect the interests of citizens and workers across these islands. The coherence and sense of purpose of the EU 27 contrasts significantly with the chaos in Westminster. Workers across the island must not pay the price of this ‘ham fisted’ Brexit.

Should a crash out Brexit occur, the Irish government must make immediate provision for a Brexit Adjustment Fund which could be drawn down to protect vulnerable groups of workers and industries that will be exposed to the shock of a no-deal Brexit.

Last week Enterprise Ireland stated that approximately 25,000 workers would be directly affected by such a shock,” stated King.

 “In Northern Ireland the political vacuum continues. We have made it clear to both the Irish and British government that they must establish a representative ‘Brexit Stakeholders Forum’ under strand 3 of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement to seek to deal with and address the impact of Brexit in Northern Ireland.

It is essential  that the trade union movement along with other representative bodies have the opportunity to play a central role in such a forum to ensure workers concerns in Northern Ireland are understood, heard and heeded.

We must also ensure that Stormont returns in the context of a rights based frame work for all and that the Assembly commits to passing into law any progressive EU directives on worker’s rights as this is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland.

Not only is it essential for Northern Ireland workers but it is also important for the island to prevent stagnation and ultimately lowering of labour standards on the island of Ireland,” stated Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary. He underlined the importance of the Good Friday Agreement and the maintenance of the backstop.