Belfast Telegraph

Unite's Len McCluskey warns of 'shadow' on workplaces post-Brexit

Firms have been warned not to use Brexit as an excuse to cut jobs and workers' rights amid warnings that a "shadow" was hanging over workplaces in the aftermath of the EU vote.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said productive factories like Ford's engine plant in Bridgend, south Wales, have had their future thrown into doubt following the referendum result.

"We are ready to work with employers to overcome any genuine problems that may exist. But we are not prepared to see Brexit used as a smokescreen for further disinvestment from Britain. Out of the EU must not mean out of work," he said at the TUC Congress in Brighton.

Mr McCluskey also called for an end to the "shameful racist backlash" on migrant workers.

"It is greedy bosses who are to blame for driving down wages, not migrant workers."

He called on unions to "pick up the pieces" following the referendum result to protect workers' rights.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, told the conference that the aftermath of the referendum had brought out the "worst" in society, adding: "A rising and ugly tide of racism, frightening anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant sentiment once consigned to the sewer of the far right, now unleashed into the mainstream.

"The referendum result has also left the government without a plan. Conservative politicians parroting 'Brexit is Brexit' as a substitute for a proper economic plan for our country, our jobs and our children's futures.

"We might have a new Prime Minister, but she is sticking with the failed austerity that prolonged the recession and hurt so many working people.

"Harsh spending cuts are pushing nurses, teaching assistants, social workers, town hall staff and those caring for our loved ones beyond breaking point.

"But the British people didn't vote for more cuts in June, they didn't endorse austerity, in fact they voted for the opposite - for more spending."