International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) assistant general secretary Rob Johnston speaks exclusively to Unite Brexit Check.
On the Brexit negotiations:
“There needs to be real leadership on the UK’s behalf, with a sensible negotiating strategy which isn’t about brinkmanship. We need all the parties to sit down and negotiate in a sensible way, looking at the overall outcome. It’s no good (for the UK government) to sit there and say things like ‘we don’t want to discuss the divorce bill, we only want to negotiate trade’.
“There needs to be an understanding that we have to look at this as a whole piece and to have a meaningful negotiation process, which in the end benefits workers, communities and society as a whole – not just the few.”
On the Open Skies agreement:
“The Open Skies agreement is one of the most pressing issues because the reality is by March next year, tickets will go on sale for the following year. Aviation we know is a critical industry – the UK is an island.
“Aviation has been steadily growing… but there’s a real lack of leadership and a real danger that if the government don’t get this particular part right, the industry could suffer as a consequence and in turn our communities will suffer.”
On post-Brexit trade deals:
“We need job security through trade agreements that are beneficial to workers. So not just trade agreements that boost profits but trade agreements that contain clauses that maintain social inclusion and include protections for workers. Not a race to the bottom but a race to the top.”
On the view from the EU:
“I spend a lot of my time talking to unions in Europe. They don’t want to see a race to the bottom of their terms and conditions. There is a great deal of interest about what the UK have decided and why they decided. Some similar feelings are out there in European countries, so they’re watching with great interest.
“But the one thing I can say about the European trade unions is that there is a great deal of good feeling, solidarity and the recognition that we need to benefit all workers and not just the few bosses.”
Interview edited for length and clarity.