Trish Ford: Brexit roadmap must include workers’ rights, investment in skills and positive domestic procurement

Tariff free access to the single market and membership of the customs union must be a priority and must be negotiated in the given time scale.

Reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules is unthinkable for the whole of the automotive industry and will cost tens if not hundreds of millions of pounds in taxes.

Trish Ford and John McDonnell at the Road to Brexit conference


There is also the risk this poses to future model allocations, with most automotive companies having other plants across Europe.

We are already being told that we must be cost competitive.

The negotiators should include trade unions whose priorities will be the workers not the companies.

It is extremely important that workers’ rights, terms and conditions and health and safety protections, are protected – not just in the short term, but in the future.

Any attack on these rights will see unscrupulous employees exploit workers.

We have all heard about, and fought for, workers who are treated disgustingly. Workers who have no rights or protections because of zero hour contracts.

We are where we are and Brexit is what we have got.

We must ensure when we come out the other side of the Brexit negotiations that we have strong embedded rights and regulations for workforces across the country.

It is clear moving forward that positive procurement can create a strong stable internal market to support manufacturing.

The re-shoring of jobs can bring back manufacturing to the UK and investment in skills will ensure that we can have highly skilled workers and engineers. This includes providing quality apprenticeships.

Trish Ford is Unite deputy convenor at Toyota Ltd. A version of this speech was first made at the Road to Brexit conference.