Workers’ rights are under threat if Britain leaves the European Union, Labour’s shadow Business Secretary has said.
Angela Eagle warned that EU-backed principles like paid holidays and equal pay were “on the ballot paper” in the In-Out referendum on 23 June.
Ms Eagle warned that many Conservatives who wanted to leave the bloc wanted to scrap the rights and said Labour voters would be key to the Remain vote.
“Workers’ rights are on the ballot paper in this referendum – a lot of workers’ rights are underpinned by EU regulations: equal pay for work of equal value, paid holidays, rights for part-time workers,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“[These are] all things that Tory eurosceptics want to be free of.
“I think it’s important that we put the Labour case for staying in and underpinning rights at work, having a higher, more productive economy, greater skills in our economy so people can earn higher wages, a more productive economy, is really an important part of staying in Europe.”
European Union legislation mandates that member states must by law give workers four weeks of paid leave, while the principle of equal pay for equal work has been embedded in treaties since the bloc's founding.
In 2011 the Coalition government drew up a report, authored by capitalist Adrian Beecroft, calling for swathes of business regulations to be scrapped.
The provisions in the report were however blocked by then Liberal Democrat business secretary Vice Cable, who Mr Beecroft then labelled a “socialist”.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
There were reports last year that David Cameron might negotiate away workers’ rights as part of plans to cut “red tape” across the EU. Though the PM has secured largely unspecified cuts to “red tape” this plan appears to have been dropped.
At Labour’s last party conference former cabinet minister Alan Johnson said Labour should campaign to stay in the EU even if Mr Cameron negotiated away workers’ rights.
“Even if [David Cameron] did come back with a package that interferes with workers’ rights we don’t get rid of the EU, we get rid of the Tories,” he told a fringe meeting at the gathering.
Mr Cameron has called an in-out EU referendum for 23 June, following the renegotiation of the terms of British membership.