Unite calls on trade union movement to ‘heal the wounds of Brexit’

The trade union movement is uniquely placed to heal the wounds of Brexit, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner will say today (Monday 10 September) when he moves the TUC general council statement on Brexit at TUC conference.

Steve Turner will call on trade unions to “rise like lions to challenge the threat of a hard-right Tory attack on working people” and “bosses who seek to use Brexit to shed jobs, offshore jobs and put a match to hard won terms and conditions, protections and rights.”

On the hopes and fears of working people amid Brexit uncertainty and austerity he will say: “Our members want to secure their jobs and protect skills and investment alongside their employment rights. Our families need hope and opportunity to replace the helplessness, fear and despair caused by mindless austerity."

Mr Turner will go on to say that the government cannot be trusted to get a Brexit deal that puts working people first, saying: “But with a wasted two years since the referendum, we’re faced with an internal battle for control of government and Ministers … potential leaders even … like Boris Johnson, happy to declare their willingness to ‘fuck business’ in his personal drive for power.

“Jacob Rees-Mogg offshoring his business interests to Ireland to avoid his own Brexit carnage.

“And, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, who despite the central importance of the peace process to any Brexit deal, confesses her ignorance of the politics and culture of Northern Ireland.

“Congress… it’s no surprise that the polls show people no longer trust this joke of a government to achieve anything, let alone a good deal."

Warning that we live in a divided Britain he will call on the trade union movement to organise for change and secure the best possible future for working people, saying: “Of course, two thirds of Labour voters, 60 per cent of trade unionists, voted to remain. But that means lots of our members did vote for Brexit - we have to understand why and find solutions to genuine fears and concerns of those who feel abandoned to their fate in a rapidly changing world and betrayed by a political elite that doesn’t speak to or for them.

“Congress we live in a divided Britain, however we voted - and it’s our job, our duty in the absence of government … to step up, organise for change and deliver the programme necessary to heal the wounds and secure the best possible future for working people, our families and communities outside the EU.

“Because comrades, that feeling of betrayal is deep rooted. A betrayal of the Brexit vote without answers will only add to a crisis of belonging and identity that could find its way onto our streets with a rapid and dangerous rise of the far right.”

He will go on to outline the TUC general council statement in the event of a no deal Brexit or a deal that is bad for workers saying: “It demands MPs reject a disastrous no deal and send a defeated, broken government back to the country in a general election.

“It demands we extend Article 50 to give an incoming Labour government time and opportunity to negotiate a deal for the many, not the few.

“And if the politicians can’t do that, then we demand we go back to the people so they can vote on the deal on offer. It’s our deal, our future, not theirs.

“Congress this is not a call for a second referendum ... a place some outside our movement want to push us … but a vote on the terms of our departure if parliament fails us.

“Congress we need a better, fairer Britain. We need to heal the wounds. Only our movement is capable of doing that.”