Politics

Johnson must strike EU deal or put at risk millions of jobs, TUC Chief warns


Johnson failing to strike a trade deal with the European Union would be “an act of vandalism” that would put millions of jobs at risk, the UK’s top union official has warned.

TUC chief Frances O’Grady said the Prime Minister needed to “get on with the job” of reaching an agreement if he was serious about protecting the economy.

The Government has been accused of attempting to sabotage trade talks with Brussels by planning to over-write the Brexit deal Mr Johnson signed just last year.

Ahead of this weekend’s TUC conference, Ms O’Grady warned that ministers should “stop posturing” and show they were serious about tackling the economic fall-out from the coronavirus crisis.

Getting a deal was “a big test” for ministers as failure would inflict serious harm on businesses and their staff.

“It would be criminal in my view, it would be an act of pure vandalism, to walk away with no deal. It has to be avoided at all costs,” she told the Mirror.

“The Government promised this would be the easiest deal in history. They promised it would be oven ready. So deliver it and stop posturing. They need to get on with the job”.

Boris Johnson has come under increasing pressure to strike a deal with Brussels

Nearly three million jobs rely on trade with the EU – and around £120bn of trade could be at risk from a Brexit deal that limits UK businesses’ access to EU markets.

READ  Why thousands who've just started a new job will lose out on coronavirus cash

“If the Government is serious about protecting jobs in this country, us having a manufacturing base and being able to pay our way in the world then they will make this their top priority. I don’t know whether they’re serious. It’s a big test for them,” she added.

“If they make trade more expensive and more difficult with more red-tape then that cost has to be paid for and too often our experience is that it’s paid for with workers’ jobs. In this crisis it’s profits or its jobs, which is it going to be?”

As coronavirus cases start to rise, the union chief warned that now was not the time to “pull the plug” on the furlough scheme which has supported millions of workers since the start of the pandemic.

“The biggest enemy is mass unemployment. That will set our economy back and scar a generation,” she warned.

She spoke to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has repeatedly ruled out extending it in a targeted way, earlier this week to try to persuade him.

“We can’t afford to see 2.5m, potentially as many as 4m, people unemployed in this country. Just when we’re trying to get the economy back on its feet this is not the time to pull the plug,” she said.

“Just like anybody else, I’m conscious of the cost of this, but I tell you the cost of mass unemployment is a helluva lot higher.

”The only way we’re going to get our economy growing again is if we work our way through it.”

READ  Team May goes on offensive against Boris Johnson - ‘He TOASTED the Chequers agreement!’

Ms O’Grady called for a “kitchen table revolution” among women workers who had borne the brunt of the pandemic both in their workplaces and at home.

She urged ministers to make sure the “clock doesn’t go back” for women employees and to remind bosses of their responsibilities.

“It is against the law to discriminate against women and would like to hear Government say that,” she said.

“They’re top of the list when it comes to redundancy. Very often that looks like indirect discrimination to me. There’s still this 1950s assumption that women’s wages are not as important. We need a kitchen table rebellion.”

The TUC has called for more support for childcare to help people get back to work.

She added: “We’ve heard a lot about getting kids back to school but where are the breakfast clubs and after-school care?

“We know who ends up paying the price if we don’t sort out childcare”.

The TUC has been at the forefront of campaigning for more justice in the UK

Ms O’Grady suggested the Government needed more women in top jobs with “practical, real-life awareness” for better decision making.

And she criticised the appointment of Tony Abbott, who has a history of misogyny, onto the UK’s board of trade.

“I feel there are people in Government who are deliberately trying to stir a 1970s-style battle of the sexes,” she said.

“We shouldn’t rise to it. Anybody in working life wants to see respect, and that includes women. The Government is playing games and it’s puerile.

READ  Russia report: When can we expect it to be published?

“It seems like attention-seeking instead of getting your nose to the grindstone, getting the deal that you promised would be ‘oven-ready’.

“Stop messing about, shenanigans and sabre-rattling. Most of us want some serious efforts to get a good deal.”





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply