As the EU referendum draws ever closer, I will be campaigning relentlessly to ensure voters know exactly how positive the European Union’s influence has been for workers’ rights in the UK.
Unfortunately, we’re not going to hear these arguments from David Cameron. In fact, with the Trade Union bill on the table, it is safe to assume he sees these workers’ safeguards as a continental inconvenience, in spite of his wish for the UK to remain in the EU.
We’ve heard how the free movement of people across the continent helps ensure we’re able to holiday with ease in Spain, France, Germany, and all over mainland Europe, completely visa-free. What we’ve not heard enough about, perhaps, is how the fundamental right to a paid holiday from work is protected by the EU.
It is EU legislation, agreed with our European partners, that also gives us maternity and paternity rights at work. Additionally, it is the laws we created, with trade unions and alongside our European neighbours, that give us our robust health and safety rules. Rules which go a long way in reducing injuries and deaths.
As the fight for gender equality continues, It’s also important to note that it is the EU that has enshrined the right to equal pay for equal work for men and women. Similarly, it’s European legislation that protects us from workplace discrimination on the grounds of age, sexual orientation or religion.
As a worker in the South East, I would feel safer knowing that there is EU legislation safeguarding my basic rights, regardless of the party in power in Westminster. That’s one of the reasons why I’m campaigning for Britain to Remain in the EU.
Green Party MEP for the South East
Note: Keith is the Green MEP for the South East of England and is one of 50 Green/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. He sits on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine. Keith is also Vice Chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on animal welfare and a member of the parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.