TUC chief ridicules 'phoney' Brexit campaigners

时间:2019-09-08 责任编辑:召悝赋 来源:兴发娱乐平台 点击:212 次

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, has ridiculed senior Brexit campaigners for painting themselves as the champions of working people, as she warns that wages would be £38 a week lower outside the .

Leaders of the Vote Leave campaign, including employment minister and former mayor of London Boris Johnson, have sought to position themselves as fighting for the rights of ordinary British families against a moneyed elite.

But O’Grady said voters were unlikely to be convinced by the pitch from top Tories. “I think people know a phoney when they see it,” she told the Guardian, on the eve of a speech on the EU referendum. “It’s a bit like Iain Duncan Smith pretending to be the friend of the poor, when everyone knows he was the minister for food banks.” She added: “Has Priti Patel ever struggled to pay the gas bill? I doubt it.”

“I don’t think Michael Gove is ever going to be Bob Crow,” she added, referring to the late leader of the RMT union.

The pro-Brexit Patel said those with a “luxury lifestyle” did not understand the consequences of immigration, in a dig at the wealthy leaders of her party; while Johnson told the BBC on Tuesday that he saw himself as struggling against “a small group of people who do very well out of the current system and who know Christine Lagarde and can go mwah mwah with her at Davos”.

But O’Grady said voters were turned off by these “factional fractures in the governing class”, and wanted to hear “less about fratricide, and more about what matters to working people: jobs, rights and pay.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m personally feeling a bit fed up that it’s blokes in suits, and very often public schoolboys in suits, talking about the things that matter to them,” she said.

She added that while the rights that have been secured with the help of the EU, such as holiday pay and paid maternity leave, would not immediately disappear if Britain left, there would be a risk that they could be undermined. “It’s not necessarily that if we came out, the first thing that would happen is that the government would say, “no more holiday pay”; but what we do worry about, for good reason, is watering down.”

In her speech, O’Grady will present research suggesting £38 a week would be lost from the wages of an average worker if Britain left the EU.

“Now £38 may not be much for business leaders or politicians; certainly not for Boris Johnson – a man who described his £250,000 fee for a weekly newspaper column as ‘chicken feed’. But for millions of workers, it’s the difference between heating or eating, between struggling or saving, and between getting by or getting on.”

Employment minister Priti Patel (right) canvassing on behalf of Vote Leave in Maidstone. Photograph: Getty

The TUC, which represents more than 5.8 million workers in 52 unions, said working people would pay the price of weaker trade and economic growth in the event of , at a time when real wages were still £40 a week below pre-crisis levels.

Manufacturing firms would be hit particularly hard, according to the TUC, because so much is exported from British factories to the EU.

Britain’s manufacturing sector has yet to fully recover from the impact of the financial crisis, with output still below its pre-crisis peak.

O’Grady will say: “What’s absolutely clear is that jobs would go. And not just any old jobs – we’d be losing high-pay, high-skill, high-productivity jobs. We would lose manufacturing jobs that pay £100 a week more than service sector equivalents.

Her intervention, which is part of the Stronger In campaign being coordinated from Downing Street, is aimed at convincing Labour voters and traditional trades union supporters that they should vote to stay in the EU. Labour is campaigning for a remain vote, but O’Grady says the party is “struggling” to make its voice heard.

Responding to the TUC research, the Vote Leave chair, Gisela Stuart, said: “The EU has been a disaster for workers, with unemployment in the double digits across the eurozone and harsh austerity measures implemented at the expense of vital public services.

“The head of the In campaign, Lord Rose, has himself said that workers will get a pay rise if we vote leave. And, as the Bank of England has confirmed, uncontrolled immigration has played a key role in bringing down wages.

“After we vote leave, we can take back control of immigration and spend the £50m we send to the EU every day on our priorities.”