An industrial strategy for the whole of the UK

Brexit must not be something our union simply watches from the side-lines. We have a unique role to play in protecting and advancing the interests of our members.

Unite is determined to defend our members’ jobs, pay, employment rights and conditions in order to secure a future for them and their families in post-Brexit Britain.

Government and employers must not be allowed to use Brexit as an excuse for cutting jobs, moving work away from the UK or attacking workers’ rights. We must unite to make sure that Brexit happens on our terms.

Unite is demanding a new industrial strategy, a plan which includes all our sectors, with decent jobs, fair pay and strong working rights at its heart.

Such a strategy must use every tool at the government’s disposal including: plugging the skills gap by supporting apprenticeships, use of public sector procurement to support manufacturing, removing barriers to reshoring jobs and direct support for our strategic industries such as steel and energy.

This should culminate in new infrastructure projects to create jobs and grow our economy. Such a strategy would make sure Britain retains the best of the EU, while putting trade union values at the centre of post-Brexit Britain.

Such an industrial strategy must be linked to securing tariff-free access to the Single Market and retaining all positive EU-based laws – from workers’ rights to environmental protections.

Taken together this is a strategy for retaining the best parts of the EU, while taking full advantage of any opportunities that arise from Brexit.

We must make sure our members’ voices are heard – in the workplace and in Parliament – to scrutinise the government’s plans, and show we will not accept a version of Brexit that threatens our members’ jobs and livelihoods.

Unite will be lobbying the governments of Westminster and the devolved countries to make sure our collective voice is heard.

The true power of our union is our strength in the workplace. We must organise to use this strength to protect our members from the impact of Brexit.

Discuss the impact of Brexit at your next union branch meeting and campaign for your employer to publicly pledge to retain all workers’ rights, standards and protections.

Safeguards to end "Freedom of Movement" exploitation

Unite is calling for safeguards that defend all workers against wage cutting and that must include ending the exploitation of migrant workers.

These safeguards must include stronger collective bargaining rights, so any employer wishing to recruit labour abroad should only be able to do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement or by sectoral collective bargaining.

This would allow us to hold the line and guarantee a union-backed ‘rate for the job’, no matter a workers’ country of origin. Such safeguards would end the race-to-the bottom attacks on wages, terms and conditions.

Unite supports all our members and will continue to support the right of EU workers to remain in the UK after Brexit.

Our role as a trade union is to unite working people to defend and promote our shared interests –secure work, decent pay and a strong collective voice.

We must not allow ‘Tory Brexit’ to be used as a weapon to divide us and drive down wages. It is a priority of our union not only to defend our members’ jobs, but to defend their safety.

Unite will continue to defend EU nationals and other migrant workers who live and work in the UK. We support their right to remain.

Automotive

The automotive sector has been one of UK manufacturing’s greatest success stories. Unite members across the industry are rightly proud to be the essential component at the heart of this world beating industry. The Tories cannot be allowed to put this at risk.

The automotive sector is truly global. The cars rolling off the production lines may be badged with the most British of brands – Mini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover – but these firms are international. Similarly the industry is dependent on a UK-EU wide supply chain.

Many manufactures, such as Nissan and Toyota operate ‘Just in Time’ supply chains, where they only stock essential components for a number of hours. Any break in the supply chain that runs from Aberdeen to Athens has the potential to cause major problems.

That is why Unite is demanding that the government publicly commits to pursuing tariff-free access to the Single Market. This would maintain the integrity of the supply chain, while giving industry the stability needed to invest in new vehicle models.

However, both employers and the government can go much further than this. Unite is calling on all employers to pledge that hard earned workers’ rights – from equality of pay, to the Working Time Directive, access to European Works Councils and the rights to consultation – are all retained regardless of Brexit.

Unite will not accept any watering down of workers’ rights, terms or conditions. We are calling on shop stewards, reps and members to be vigilant for any employer who seeks to take advantage of the ongoing uncertainty.

The union is also lobbying the government –centrally, devolved and regionally – to adopt new procurement rules so public bodies, from councils to police forces, can support our industry by buying UK made vehicles.

This is just one way that a stable and strong internal market can be created to support the communities which rely on our industry.

Finance

The UK’s place in the European Union, particularly preferential access to the Single Market, has been central to the growth of the finance sector. This is especially true for banking.

Yet, this growth has not been even and its benefits have not been shared. For the last eight years workers across the finance sector, especially the retail banks, have been forced to pay the price for the financial crash.

From the closing of pension schemes to thousands of job cuts, we have been forced to shoulder the cost of a crisis we did not cause. We cannot allow ‘Brexit’ to be a repeat of 2008.

In the eight years since the crash our sector has experienced a rapid rate of change, which is only accelerating in the face of a new wave of digitisation. For many of our members, this is a familiar story. Bank branches are replaced by Phone Apps, vital support functions are off-shored and customers are forced to deal with automated ‘Robo advisers’.

Taken together, Brexit and digitisation demand that we reflect on the changes facing our jobs, and how we can make sure those changes happen on our terms.

Unite notes that ‘ring-fencing’ legislation which seeks to separate investment banks from retail operations will come into effect in 2019, the same year the UK is expected to exit from the EU.

It is vital that any threat by the investment banks to relocate from London must not be passed down to workers in the retail banks. Similarly, the uncertainty must not be used as an excuse to further close branches or offshore support functions.

When it comes to negotiating a new trade deal between the UK and the European Union, Unite will not allow the government to pit one part of our union against the other.

From manufacturing to transport, maintaining tariff-free access to the Single Market is just as important as the ‘passporting’ rights needed by the finance sector. Unite is committed to defending every member from the impact of Tory Brexit, no matter your sector.

Transport

Unite is the largest trade union for transport workers, representing members from road haulage, passenger transport, civil aviation, rail and ports. Unite recognises that millions of working people, including many of our members, voted to exit the EU.

The question now is on whose terms will Brexit happen? We must unite to make sure that Brexit happens on our terms – protecting transport jobs and retaining vital workers’ rights while outlining our vision for Post-Brexit Britain.

Unite is demanding that the government commits to pursuing tariff-free access to the Single Market. This would ensure that there is no return to the lengthy border checks, quota limitations or competing systems of permits and regulations which would sever the UK’s transportation links to Europe and damage vital supply chains to industry.

Similarly, for our civil aviation members it is important that the government commits to the UK being part of the Open Skies Agreement, to keep our fleets flying after Brexit.

However, both employers and the government must go much further than this.

Unite is calling on all employers to pledge that hard earned workers’ rights – from equality of pay, to the Working Time Directive, access to European Works Councils and the rights to consultation – are all retained regardless of Brexit.

In the long term, Unite is clear that the only way to mitigate the impact of Brexit on transport workers is with an ambitious industrial strategy, which invests in vital infrastructure such as road and rail links to our major ports.

The government claims that the UK will be a free trading nation, yet on the UK side of the channel many of the gateway ports, such as Felixstowe, Tilbury and Dover simply do not have the road or rail infrastructure required for the prolonged border checks and inspections which would result from the UK leaving the Customs Union.

This has been exposed by the 800 Unite members in the Port of Liverpool who have been protesting about the inhuman conditions endured by shift workers and lorry drivers.

Public Services

From the National Health Service, to Social Care and Local Government, Unite is the progressive voice of public sector workers across the UK. Our vital public services are not separate from the wider economy and there is no doubt that any economic downturn resulting from Brexit on the Tories’ terms would exasperate the crippling impact of austerity.

Unite is clear: the public sector must not pay the cost for Brexit. That means ending the austerity offensive against services; campaigning for properly funded local authority, health, social care and education systems; protecting community services, employment rights and environmental standards and guaranteeing the right to remain for EU workers across the public sector.

Unite is calling for the government to protect – and increase – much needed funding for the whole public sector, all of which is crumbling under Tory cuts.

Where is the £350 million we were promised by Boris Johnson for our NHS? Where are the protections for European research and science funding and cross border collaboration which must continue after Brexit? Who will plug the funding that has been supporting our most deprived communities?

Your union will always support the right of EU workers to remain in the UK after Brexit. It is unacceptable for the government to use the futures of many thousands of EU born public sector workers as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations.

Our role as a trade union is to unite working people to defend and promote our shared interests. We must not allow ‘Tory Brexit’ to be used as a weapon to divide us and drive down wages.

Food, Drink and Agriculture

Unite is the largest trade union in the food manufacturing industries, and the only trade union in agriculture. Our union covers some of the UK’s most profitable firms, but represents some of the most exploited and underpaid workers.

Unite recognises that millions of working people voted to exit the EU. The question now is on whose terms will Brexit happen?

We must unite to make sure that Brexit happens on our terms – protecting jobs, retaining vital workers’ rights, food standards and environmental protections. We must also outline our vision for Post-Brexit Britain – for secure jobs, decent pay and a strong voice for all workers in food, drink and agriculture.

Our industry is international, with supply chains stretching from the UK across the continent. Unite is demanding that the government commits to pursuing tariff-free access to the Single Market.

Unite is also calling for safeguards that defend all workers against wage cutting and that must include ending the exploitation of migrant workers. These safeguards must include stronger collective bargaining rights, so any employer wishing to recruit labour abroad should only be able to do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement or by sectoral collective bargaining.

This would allow us to hold the line and guarantee a union-backed ‘rate for the job’, no matter a workers’ country of origin.

Unite supports all our members and will continue to support the right of EU workers to remain in the UK after Brexit. Our role as a trade union is to unite working people to defend and promote our shared interests. We must not allow ‘Tory Brexit’ to be used as a weapon to divide us and drive down wages.

Unite is calling on all employers to pledge that hard earned workers’ rights, from equality of pay, to the Working Time Directive and the rights to consultation, are all retained regardless of Brexit.

We are calling on shop stewards, reps and members to be vigilant for any employer who seeks to take advantage of the ongoing uncertainty.