EMILY THORNBERRY has promised to refocus future Labour policy on defending workers’ rights, removing the government’s ability to dictate future trade discussions.
The initiative was unveiled by the Shadow International Trade Secretary at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) convention yesterday, with Labour vowing to stop the Conservative Government’s “corporate-centred approach” to trade. The proposed policy will be completely overhauled to defend employees’ rights and interests both at home and overseas.
Under a Labour government, Ms Thornberry said that Parliament would have a veto over negotiation objectives and a final settlement in any future trade talks. This would effectively deprive the government of power over negotiations and, for the first time, put trade policy in the hands of MPs.
The study also includes proposals for a new rule that would prohibit trade treaties with nations who, according to many MPs, have engaged in major labour and human rights violations, such as China.
“I truly believe that trade can be a global force for good, driving progress on climate change and international development, demanding respect for human rights and gender equality, and raising standards and prosperity all over the world,” writes Ms. Thornberry.
“However, we must begin with a trade policy that will create decent, well-paid jobs here at home, raise global standards, and ensure that every trade deal the UK signs is used to protect, promote, and enforce workers’ rights, regardless of where they live.
“The government may be squandering the chance to reshape our trade policy as a force for good and an example to the rest of the world, but this document demonstrates that Labour is ready to fill that void and demonstrate what is possible instead.”
According to the Labour report, Boris Johnson’s failure to take the issue of workers’ rights seriously has harmed the UK’s chances of securing a trade deal with the US.
“Boris Johnson’s Government appears not to realise that their deliberate dismissal of workers’ interests and rights in trade puts them firmly at odds with the only country that can realistically help them achieve their manifesto commitment to cover 80% of the UK’s trade with free trade agreements by the end of 2022,” it says.