This Branch Committee reaffirms our branch policy, in line with national UNISON policy and the views of 79% of the people of Lambeth voting in the recent referendum, that the United Kingdom (UK) should remain within the European Union (EU).
However, we recognise and regret that the Referendum produced a majority vote across the UK as a whole to leave the EU.
We note that there has been an upsurge in hate crime since the Referendum result and believe that this is because the result has encouraged and empowered some of those who voted to leave because of anti-migrant prejudice. This rise in hate crime takes place within the context of an institutionally racist society in which many of our members daily confront the reality of discrimination and injustice.
We further note that the referendum result has created uncertainty for many workers, including UNISON members, who are citizens of the EU about their right to remain working in the UK after any departure by the UK from the EU. We believe that no worker is illegal and that all workers working in the UK should have the legal right to remain here.
We also note that the outcome of the referendum has been that there has been a transition of power to a new Conservative Prime Minister with a more right-wing Cabinet. We believe that it is very likely that this Government will embark upon further austerity measures and will also seek to undermine our employment rights.
We recognise that the process of the UK leaving the EU will take years rather than months, and believe that UNISON and the labour movement must ensure that the interests of working people influence this process. The question of whether or not there should be a further Referendum remains open, but in or out of the EU we need a labour movement which is more active in defending our interests.
At this point, just weeks after the Referendum result, we can only take some initial decisions about how to campaign. Some points however are already clear.
We endorse the following demands which UNISON will be putting to the TUC to;
- demand a workers voice in all EU negotiations;
- campaign for an immediate moratorium on public service cuts;
- promote an anti-austerity alternative and the benefits of collective bargaining;
- lobby for trade agreements that protect workers, public services, equalities, the environment and health and safety;
- expose attempts to introduce free trade, low investment, low tax policies across the UK;
- campaign across the EU and the UK on this programme, to promote this alternative, including supporting public events and demonstrations.
- the recognition of trade unions as key stakeholders in the Brexit negotiations;
- campaign to ensure that the UK government does not repeal any current rights guaranteed by the EU, including all existing equality legislation, or water down or dismantle TU and worker rights;
- protect the rights of existing EU workers to remain in the UK, whilst ensuring the movement of workers in the EU is a key reciprocal right in any agreement that allows UK access to the single market;
- demand repeal of the Trade Union Act, and the adoption of the IER manifesto for Labour Law;
- coordinate resistance and opposition to any attacks on the rights, security and living standards of working people.
- Renew our focus on tackling racism in the workplace and beyond;
- counter attacks on migrant workers and refugees at national and workplace level;
- Resist attempts by the hard-right to strip away employment protections.
This Branch Committee therefore resolves;
- To reaffirm that we are an internationalist, anti-racist trade union branch and that we support the free movement of people and the rights of all migrants currently living the UK to remain here;
- To restate our opposition to racism, discrimination, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, prejudice and the far-right and to consider inviting a speaker from Hope not Hate, or another appropriate organisation, to a meeting in the near future to develop campaigning proposals;
- To reach out to organisations of migrant workers and develop joint campaigning in defence of the rights of migrant workers;
- To call upon UNISON to work with other trade unions in Europe to seek to influence both sides of any negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU in the interests of working people internationally;
- To call upon UNISON Labour Link to campaign at every level of the Labour Party to secure policies which protect and seek to improve upon all existing workers’ rights;
- To call for UNISON to resist any attempts to sign free trade deals that promote privatisation and give multinational corporations legal rights over and above national sovereign governments;
- To instruct Branch Officers to submit this motion, appropriately reworded, to the autumn meeting of the UNISON Greater London Regional Council.
Agreed at the Branch Committee on Tuesday 19 July.