PRESS RELEASE: Sophie Walker says it is women with most to lose from workers’ rights regression

by Jenna Norman on 06.03.19 in Uncategorised

Sophie Walker – leader of the Women’s Equality Party and supporter of Women for a People’s Vote – denounces May’s hollow workers’ rights promise:

“It’s time we’re honest about what Brexit means for working women.

 EU legislation on part time work, equal pay, flexible working and parental leave has been a significant advance towards gender equality, providing more support to women juggling work and care responsibilities. But these same rights are up for grabs in May’s Political Declaration which provides no guarantee we will stay in step with our European neighbours on rights for working families.

 This is a desperate and hollow bid to win Labour MPs’ favour from a Prime Minister beholden to the right wing of her party – which has continually tried to turn back the clock on gender equality.

 The EU is about to pass new legislation on paid carers leave and extended paid parental leave. This would encourage more men to care and thus help to close the pay gap caused by women being forced to take on the majority of unpaid care work. With the hard right in the ascendant within the Conservative Party, it is naive to imagine that this legislation would receive support from government when it arrives in Parliament.

 By putting workers’ rights up for negotiation in this way, Theresa May has actually revealed just how much we need the EU to keep advancing women’s workplace rights and benefits.

 Now that we know the facts about what Brexit means for working women, they deserve a final say. I’ll be marching for a People’s Vote on 23 March, for women, for gender equality, for everyone.”


Notes to editor

 Today, Theresa May has announced that MPs are to get a vote on whether to implement future EU legislation on workers’ rights. Trade unions have been quick to slam this bid to win over MPs as “nods and winks from a lame duck prime minister” (GMB’s Tim Roache) and “blatant window dressing” (TUC’s Frances O’Grady.)  (BBC News.)

The Work-Life Balance directive was provisionally agreed upon by the Council, Commission and Parliament in January 2019. It includes a European minimum standards of 10 days paternity leave around the birth of the child (paid at sick-leave level), 4 months of parental leave (with minimum 2 months non-transferable and paid, with payment to be determined by national governments) and 5 days/year of carers leave per worker (with payment to be decided by national governments) (European Women’s Lobby.)