But organised workers are calling employers’ bluff to win deals, says Unite
OPPORTUNISTIC bosses are using Brexit as an excuse for paltry pay deals and attacks on terms and conditions, including pensions and holiday pay, research from Unite revealed yesterday.
The union is compiling a unique database recording of the “Brexit effect” by conducting regular surveys of 22,000 workplace representatives.
Early results show that the two biggest areas of concern for its shop floor reps are pay talks and fears that workplaces are too reliant on freedom of movement, which could be curtailed when Britain leaves the European Union.
Although opportunistic bosses are seeking to exploit Brexit, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said well-organised workplaces have been able to “call the employers’ bluff” and overturn insultingly low offers.
The union pointed to a West Midlands automotive components company that offered a below-inflation 1.5 per cent pay award, citing the impact of Brexit.
But a positive result in a ballot for industrial action saw the company bump its offer to 3 per cent, which was accepted.
Unite also secured an inflation-busting award at luxury car manufacturers Bentley as both sides saw the need for a long-term deal to create security ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU.
Brexit has also been used to threaten pension schemes, restrict trade union facility time and block reps from sitting on European Work Councils.
And Unite’s research shows that unscrupulous bosses have even tried to wriggle out of annual holiday pay, by claiming it relates to European Working Time Directives.
Mr McCluskey said the union would continue to expose and challenge employers who use Brexit as an excuse for dodgy dealings.
“These are early results but we are already beginning to see a clear pattern that employers are already opportunistically using Brexit as an excuse to attack the terms and conditions of workers,” he said.
“Where workers are well organised they have been able to call the employers’ bluff and have overturned pay freezes and below-inflation offers and secured decent pay increases.
“For working people, one of the best protections they will have against any Brexit downsides that may hit their workplace is to join a union.”
He urged the government to work with unions on the impact of Brexit due to their links to workplaces and communities.
“Our insights can only help inform the government’s approach,” he said.