Unite Brexit Check speaks exclusively to Kemal Ozkan, assistant general secretary of the IndustriALL global union, which represents more than 50m workers in the manufacturing, energy and mining industries.
On Brexit’s global context:
Across the world there are very dramatic political changes at the moment. When we look at the election of Trump, the rising authoritarian tendencies in many countries such as Turkey, Russia, India and Brazil and the huge nationalist demonstration in Poland – these are things we need to be worried about.
Brexit needs to be considered as part of the global political context. As workers we need an economy with solidarity and particularly we need to have a Europe in unity – this is something that goes against the current trends. This is why we are worried about Britain’s exit from the EU… that it might trigger other movements in the same direction.
A Turkish perspective on forming a new customs union with the EU:
What I see at the moment is there is discussion between the EU and the UK for a solution to the customs union. We have this experience in Turkey with the customs union. Turkey now is the only country to have a customs union with the EU without an affiliation to the EU.
I can tell you that at the time of the negotiations between the EU and Turkey, the workers and any kind of social dimension were completely forgotten. The governments of both sides, and the negotiators, just considered it an economic issue and this is why Turkey suffered quite a lot. Our expectation was that any customs union with the EU should have contained provisions for social and workers’ rights. It never happened.
Interview edited for length and clarity.