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Unions vowed to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to protect workers’ rights

BRITAIN’S leading trade unions warned today that they would fight “tooth and nail” to protect workers’ rights following the government’s admission they were under review after Brexit.

In a statement signed by 12 trade unions including Unite, Unison, Usdaw and GMB, leaders vowed to protect those working to keep the country going during Covid-19.

The pledge comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson whipped Tory MPs to abstain on a non-binding Labour motion to protect the 48-hour working week, rest breaks and overtime pay on Monday night.

The statement said: “It is unconscionable that at a time when thousands of people are dying each day and we are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, that they have prioritised drawing up these plans.

“The government have long promised that our rights at work would be ‘protected and enhanced.’ They simply have no mandate for ripping them up.”

The statement, also signed by the leaders of the CWU, TSSA, Aslef, Community, the FBU, the Musicians’ Union, BFAWU and NUM, warned that a loss of hard-won rights would further lower living standards after a decade of austerity and stagnating pay.

It said: “With insecurity rife, we believe this pandemic should be a turning point where working people should have their rights strengthened, not threatened.

“The whole of the labour movement will fight tooth and nail to protect and extend our rights.”

Today the House of Commons backed Labour by 263 votes after Mr Johnson again ignored an opposition day motion, following Tory abstentions on votes on free school meals and cuts to universal credit last week.

Shadow employment rights secretary Andy McDonald warned last night  that a better deal for working people is essential as Britain emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He called for all existing employment rights and protections to be maintained, including the 48-hour working week, and for legislation to end fire & rehire tactics.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the Commons that there is no government plan to reduce workers’ rights and it would not row back on the 48-hour weekly working limit.

He also called the use of fire & rehire tactics by companies such as British Gas “unacceptable” — but failed to answer a question from Mr McDonald on whether the government would ban them.

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