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10 June 2016

This Is Doing The Rounds On Facebook, But What Is The Truth? #Ukip #WorkersRights #EuRef

This image is being shared round by Left #Lexit campaign taken (it would seem) from info being shared by far right on Facebook.

What to make of it?

Well, we considered the following:

The problem with all this is that the Lexit campaign plays straight into the hands of UKIP, and in the event of a Brexit helped by a Lexit campaign, we will find ourselves facing a Tory/Ukip govt and lose all the benefits of EU membership. These benefits are far reaching, and will impact on all of us. It will be an incredibly messy divorce and (without sounding too pessimistic) it could be very damaging to the UK economy, and put many jobs at risk. Not to mention the huge cost of a Brexit, when we consider all the costs of overhauling our legal framework, and renegotiating new trade deals. For me and many people on the left we are facing a difficult decision on 23rd June. 

But what to make of the information we are faced with about workers rights?  This covers point one. We need to remember that with 'Paid holiday leave' it is the minimum only that is set by the EU (same goes for maternity leave, maternity pay, etc) - the EU doesn't stop individual nations setting a higher minimum if they want to, and this is a strong argument against the claim that the EU doesn't allow individual countries to make their own laws. Therefore, this infographic shows that we DO make our own laws, and finally puts to rest that old lie from UKIP that we don't. 

But there is a lot of misinformation in it. The claim that the UK has a 'minimum wage' deftly sidesteps the fact that we do not have one of the highest minimum wages in the EU. The original text from which the above infographic is taken states that 'we have one of the highest minimum wages in the world'.  We may have one of the highest in the world, but not Europe. As UKIP likes to keep reminding us, the UK is the 5th largest economy in the world, so why would we not have one of the highest minimum wages in the world?

Also we need to remember the fact that one of the two major parties of government in the UK opposed the existence of any minimum wage at all until the late 1990s! I'm not sure what an "EU minimum wage" would involve, but my understanding is that EU nations are required to have a minimum wage, even if it's just one they set for themselves. It would be pretty hard to impose an EU-wide minimum wage, for obvious reasons. It's an unfeasible proposition since the member states economies are so different.

The point about 'No minimum maternity pay' is simply not true. Women on maternity leave are entitled to an allowance during the period of leave at a rate at least equivalent to sick pay. In reality UK maternity pay is the 3rd lowest in Europe, only Greece and Luxembourg are lower. 

As for 'Equal pay', our membership of the EU has strengthened and influenced by EU law.  The 1970's Equal Pay Act paved the way for the UK's entry to the European Community, helping to bring it towards conformity with Article 141 of the Treaty of Rome, which says that 'each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is applied.'

Furthermore, there was no right to a MINIMUM paid holiday entitlement in the UK before the EU Working Time Directive was introduced in 1993, the Tory government at the time tried to stop the EU introducing it, it was put into UK law in 1998. It was increased to '5.6 weeks' by Labour because some employers were counting Bank Holidays as part of the 4 weeks. The rights of agency workers and part-timers are also protected under EU law.

It's important to remember that these laws are protected and guaranteed by the EU. 
None of these things are under threat by remaining in the EU, but how safe are new rules like these if we leave?

Without the EU even the minimum can be taken away. Do we want to be like the US with no maternity leave or pay and no sick leave or paid vacation? Do we trust the Tories and Ukip to protect our working rights?

Finally, it is also interesting to note this, which worries us immensely. Who is actually funding the Labour Leave campaign?

Vote wisely, don't be fooled by the spin.

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