Brexit - ICTU Proposals to support jobs and workers in Northern Ireland

30 Aug 2019

Brexit

Congress has drafted a report on the impact of Brexit on jobs and the Northern Ireland Economy.

ICTU believes that leaving the European Union will damage the NI economy and create unnecessary disruption and uncertainty for workers and their families. But if the UK Government decides to proceed with a “no deal” Brexit against the wishes of workers in Northern Ireland then Congress believe the following proposals must be undertaken.

The Department for the Economy (in Northern Ireland) are saying 40,000 jobs will be lost with a no deal Brexit. Owen Reidy Assistant General Secretary of Congress said "we think this is conservative as more jobs will be lost in due course in other sectors such as hospitality, retail and food production.The Department of the Economy also predict about a loss of £250M in FDI over the next decade". 

Owen Reidy said the UK government line of “we won’t be erecting a border and collecting tariffs” is nonsense. "Firstly WTO terms will require them to collect tariffs and more seriously, if they chose not to collect tariffs on goods coming from RoI and the rest of the EU through RoI this would lead to NI firms and workers seriously being disadvantaged and losing market share and more job losses".

Owen Reidy said "this UK government position is neither credible nor serious.Congress wants the UK government to seriously look at a Short Term Work Scheme to keep people in employment throughout such a crisis. Therefore, if a worker was on reduced hours say 70% the shortfall would have to be made up through a negotiation with the employer and state looking at taking on as much of the remaining 30% balance as possible,in reality the main burden must lie with the state as this crisis is directly attributed to UK government public policy".

He added there must be a specific Brexit Adjustment Fund that supports firms during a turbulent period to keep workers in work and firms viable and also that supports workers (around the issue of reskilling etc),  who actually lose their jobs resulting from the Brexit crisis.There must be a proper forum for Social Dialogue where the social partners in NI (particularly in the absence of an Assembly) can engage with the UK government and seek to mitigate and influence public policy in the interests of workers and citizens.