Press Release

SIPTU calls on Government to defend NI Backstop at all costs

Date Released: 16 January 2019

The comprehensive defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the House of Commons on Tuesday (15thJanuary) highlights the urgency for the Government to step up engagement with trade unions in planning for a no-deal scenario, according to SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack.

He said: “SIPTU representatives have been consistently highlighting the adverse impact of Brexit, whether soft or hard, on workers in Ireland.  The union represents tens of thousands of workers in Agri-food, road transport, retail and wholesale, which are among the sectors most vulnerable to a no-deal Brexit.

“Maintaining the Northern Ireland backstop is vital to ensure that borderless trade continues on the island and between Ireland and the UK in order to avoid the inevitable tariffs that would otherwise be imposed and which would threaten the jobs of these workers and the livelihoods of those working and living along the border. It is also essential in order to protect the Good Friday Agreement and prevent a return to conflict.

“Ensuring stability in the price of food and other consumer goods, in energy and other costs and access to medical supplies is essential to protect the living standards of working people across the country. We are once again calling for further and immediate talks on the contingency plans outlined to date by Government, including additional staff and new facilities for Dublin Port, Rosslare Port and Dublin Airport. The scope for measures to mitigate health and safety risks for road hauliers must also be discussed.

“The need for action to protect people at work who may find themselves on a short-term working week or subject to redundancy or other workplace changes arising from Brexit is missing from the debate.  SIPTU and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have repeatedly called for a domestic Contingency Fund to help workers adjust to the consequences of Brexit.”

SIPTU researcher, Loraine Mulligan added: “A no deal Brexit threatens labour, environmental and social standards secured by working people over recent decades. The Government must be resolute in its determination to prevent these being eroded as the result of the actions of reckless British legislators.”   


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