Past eventInvitation OnlyResearch Event

Making a Jobs-First and Rights-First Brexit a Reality

1 November 2017 - 8:15am to 9:30am

Chatham House, London


Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, British Trades Union Congress (TUC)
Chair: Thomas Raines, Research Fellow and Europe Programme Manager, Chatham House



Since Jacques Delors’ speech to the TUC in 1988 making the case for a social Europe, British trade unions have generally seen the EU as a platform through which to protect workers’ rights.

EU law provides the framework for a range of employment rights in the UK, setting limits on maximum hours and minimum leave, and providing a range of other employment, equality and health and safety measures. 

The government has promised to incorporate EU rules and regulations into British law once the UK leaves the EU but has left open the possibility of re-examining some of the current provisions at a later stage, and the move from protections in EU law to UK law makes changing these rights simpler. 

How do trade unions view the Brexit process and what are their priorities? Some fear that British workers’ rights may fall behind the rights of other workers in Europe post-Brexit.

To what extent will the trade unions be able to ensure continued protection of these rights and what role can they play in avoiding a race to the bottom? How will the trade union movement’s influence in the Labour party shape the opposition’s approach to Brexit?

In this session, the speaker discusses how leaving the EU may affect industrial relations in Britain, the future of workers’ rights outside of the UK and the role of trade unions in the politics of Brexit.

This is part of a series run by the Europe Programme on ‘Britain and Europe: The Post-Referendum Agenda’.

Attendance at this event is by invitation only.