Workers must be protected in the event of a 'No Deal' Brexit

15 Feb 2019

Brexit image

The General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King, who was attending the All-Island Civic Dialogue in Dublin today, has warned of the consequences for workers of a no-deal Brexit. Patricia King said, “we are now 6 weeks away from the UK exiting the EU and with each passing day a ‘no deal’ Brexit is looking more likely. As a body that represents the interests of over 800,000 workers across the island of Ireland we are seriously concerned about the political, social and economic implications of such a ‘no deal’ Brexit for workers and their families across the island. 

The General Secretary stated that a ‘no deal’ Brexit cuts right across the letter and spirit of the hard-won Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and peace process, therefore such a scenario must be avoided at all costs. It has the potential to set back and further undermine important North/South and East/West relations for some time, which also undermines strand 2 and 3 of the Agreement.

She said that in the absence of any alternative arrangement that meets the requirements of the EU 27 and the UK government to seek a soft Brexit, “we believe the draft Withdrawal Agreement needs to be considered again by the House of Commons. After all the draft Withdrawal Agreement is merely the end of the beginning and facilitates an important transition, with time and space to deal with the all- important future relationship”.

The General Secretary added that “we need to ensure that workers rights’ and conditions of employment are protected in any post Brexit scenario north and south of the border and that when devolution returns in Northern Ireland (as it is crucial it returns) the Assembly maintains decent worker’s rights and labour standards by implementing EU directives in these areas”.

 “In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit it is critical that the Irish government intensifies its ongoing engagement with the ICTU and other social partners in responding to such an emergency situation. It is also essential that the UK government set up and implement our proposal for a Forum for Social Dialogue in Northern Ireland whereby we can seek to mitigate the worst consequences of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit for workers and others”, she said. 

Patricia King concluded by stating that, “both the UK and Irish government will need to respond to such an economic emergency by setting up appropriate Brexit Adjustment Assistance Funds (BAAF) in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland respectively. This is critical to meet the challenges of job and economic displacement.  We must ensure that workers across this island do not pay the price of Brexit”.

Today’s session of the All-Ireland Civic Dialogue at Dublin Castle has been discussing the all-island implications of Brexit with a variety of stakeholders.The participants include trade unions, business groups, non-governmental organisations and political parties from across the island.


Contact : Conor Kavanagh, Communications ICTU 0868116607

Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary is available for comment 0872471994