Brexit: Gig economy union throws weight behind fresh referendum on Theresa May's deal

'Losing EU employment protections would mean we lose a vital weapon in arsenal against exploitative bosses'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 27 November 2018 11:13 GMT
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The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain protests backing #PeoplesVote

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A union representing those in the gig economy has thrown its weight behind a fresh referendum on Theresa May's Brexit deal, claiming workers' rights could be at risk.

The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which describes itself as the leading union for migrant workers and has acted on behalf of Uber and Deliveroo drivers, said its executive committee had passed a motion in support of a People's Vote.

"As migrant and precarious workers we have had to fight tooth and nail to win even the most basic rights and dignity at work," said the union's president Henry Chango Lopez.

"Losing EU employment protections would mean we lose a vital weapon in arsenal against exploitative bosses. That's why we need a people's vote. To stop a Brexit that will most likely be a carnival for profiteering companies and a curse for UK workers, not least, those at the bottom of the pile."

The move from the union which was founded in 2012 and represents over 3,500 workers will add fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn who is facing demands to come out in support of a fresh public vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal.

Speaking recently the Labour leader, who is prioritising demands for a general election should the prime minister's deal fail in the Commons, said such a vote was a "not an option for today" but an "option for the future".

And Ms May has repeatedly rejected calls for a second public vote - just last week her official spokesman said "yes" when asked whether it was safe to say that as long as she was prime minister there would be no fresh test of public opinion.

The Independent's petition - calling for a Final Say referendum - has attracted over a million signatures since launching in the summer.

The Green MP Caroline Lucas, who praised the IWGB for being at the forefront of organising gig economy workers and securing them better treatment, said: "It is low-paid precarious workers who will be hit hardest by the government giving up the workplace rights EU law enshrines.

"But by standing together, we can end low pay and exploitation, and we can deliver a democratic vote on Brexit."

Manuel Cortez, the general secretary of the TSSA union and prominent second referendum advocate on the left, added: "More and more trade unionists are coming to the same conclusion - Brexit is a Tory project from start to finish. It's all about attacking workers, scapegoating migrants and driving down wages.

"Migrant workers, like those in the gig economy, are involved in struggles which are driving up wages for all. I salute our comrades in the IWGB who are leading a fight which is helping build our trade union movement."

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