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July 2017

Irish Congress of Trade Unions BDC 2017

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Sheila Nunan (INTO general secretary and ICTU incoming President)

Sheila Nunan (INTO general secretary and ICTU incoming President)

Wed 5 July 2017

Speaking on Brexit motion

Brexit was a low rumble when we met in Ennis in 2015. We are now dealing with the aftershock. The outcome of the recent British general election has injected greater uncertainty into the lives of workers and their families all over these islands.

The challenge for us today is to ensure that the UK decision to leave the EU and the commencement of negotiations does not result in a worsening environment for workers. Congress must continue to insist on an outcome based on protecting and promoting the needs of workers and their families. 

ICTU campaigned against Brexit. Ironically the then Irish government was happy to welcome our views and our work in this regard. The principles underpinning that campaign remain central to the post referendum pre-Brexit. Since the referendum Congress has developed more detailed policy positions which will form the basis of the campaign.

In the event of a Brexit we believe that the UK as a whole should remain in the Customs Union and the Single Market and that a zero tariff agreement is reached between the UK and the EU. In the medium term a Common External tariff should be maintained. It is the less disruptive option and in the best interests of those concerned. We cannot and must not return to a customs frontier.

In any assessment of risk ICTU wants responses before the horse has bolted and is calling for pre-emptive steps to support employment. There is a clear role here for the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Executive. 

Congress is calling for a high level Brexit advisory councils north and south with a joint council on matters of North-South interest.

Congress also calls for an early warning system to identify risk in companies and sectors.


Date: Wednesday, 5 July 17