Stay in Europe to protect our rights

Workers’ rights

A wide variety of UK workers’ rights are protected at European level. Key workers’ rights we get from the EU include:

  • Limits on working hours: you can’t be made to work more than 48 hours a week
  • Guaranteed breaks: EU rules enforce breaks during working hours
  • Parental leave: maternity pay is protected as well as time off for all new parents
  • Equal pay: women must be paid the same as men for work of equal value
  • Paid holidays: you are entitled to at least four weeks’ holiday per year
  • Fairness for all: agency and temporary workers’ rights are protected too

Leaving would allow the Tories to tear up these rights. It’s sometimes pointed out that some of these rights existed before the EU, and in some cases that’s true, but the EU has enhanced them – and, importantly, as long as Britain remains an EU member, this vicious Tory government can’t take away these basic workers’ rights.

That is why Britain’s biggest unions Unite and Unison, as well as the TUC, all support a vote to stay in Europe.

“Many of the biggest cheerleaders for Brexit have spent years dismissing rights like paid leave and maternity protections as ‘red tape’ to be binned. So we know from their hostility that the threat to workers’ rights if we leave the EU is very real.”
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary

▸ Read the TUC’s materials on the EU referendum
▸ Unite on the referendum
▸ Unison on the referendum

Free movement

The European Union is the largest area of free movement in the world. People from any EU country can live, work and study in any other, with no need to go through a lengthy visa application process.

The right wing focuses on how many people are migrating in to Britain. But the other side of the story is the right that all of us have to move to any European country. There are currently 1.8 million British people living across Europe, benefiting from this right – the number of Europeans in Britain and British people in Europe balances almost exactly.

Another Europe is Possible is a campaign that supports free movement rights and welcomes migrants’ contribution to Britain. Europeans enrich our society – and their work keeps vital public services like the NHS running. And studies have found their presence does not reduce UK wages.

However, the EU should be welcoming for people from outside Europe too. We oppose the ‘Fortress Europe’ policy and say Europe should take many more refugees.

Illustration: Cressida Knapp

Human rights

Membership of the European Convention on Human Rights secures precious freedoms. Leaving the EU places our rights at real risk: many who advocate British exit also want to abandon the European Convention.

The Tories are already preparing to scrap the Human Rights Act, which incorporates many of the Convention rights into UK law. As Liberty notes, this Act protects ’15 well-established fundamental freedoms, like the right to life and the right to a fair trial’.

It would be difficult for the government to leave the European Convention on Human Rights while remaining an EU member (there is a legal debate about whether it’s even possible). If Britain leaves the EU, on the other hand, the government can leave the Convention easily.