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Brexit mustn't be ‘Trojan horse’ to scrap workers' rights

BREXIT must not be a “Trojan horse” to scrap necessary health and safety laws, campaigners have said.

The call comes as a study from the manufacturers’ body EEF urged the government today to avoid any “disruption” to business by replacing, or abolishing, currently existing labour laws when we leave the European Union.

The study said that it was “vital” that the British Standards Institution (BSI) continues to play a leading role in setting standards across Europe.

Terry Woolmer, of the EEF, said: “There is a clear message from manufacturers that there should be no rapid change post-Brexit to the UK’s health and safety regulatory regime.

“The government’s current approach of grandfathering existing EU worker protection and product safety standards into UK law for the foreseeable future is the right one.”

Lee Pickering, of safety company Arco, which helped to initiate the study, added: “A rapid change in regulation post-Brexit isn’t the correct approach as it would cause disruption, but we also believe Brexit affords us an opportunity to review and improve health and safety regulations within the UK.”

However, the Hazards Campaign, which defends health and safety regulation for workers, suggested that unions must also have more say in resisting deregulation of labour laws.

Hilda Palmer from the campaign told the Star: “Brexit must not be used as a Trojan horse to reduce health and safety laws now or in the future.

 “It is essential that all EU health and safety regulations are retained and protected as a minimum.

“To ensure this, the government must make a legally binding commitment that there will be no weakening at all of laws that protect workers after Brexit.

“We also need a commitment that the UK will remain part of the REACH regulations on chemicals, which the UK cannot match alone.

“The BSI has a role but it does not compare with, and should replace, the vital role of trade unions and workers in a more effective tripartite HSE and other bodies in setting standards and laws to prevent the unacceptable toll of injuries, illnesses and deaths in the UK.”

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