Tuesday, May 24

UK Signs Trade Agreements With Countries That Abuse Workers’ Rights, Says TUC | International trade

The Boris Johnson government has been accused of rushing to sign post-Brexit trade deals with countries where workers’ rights are systematically violated or denied, including five of the 10 worst offenders worldwide.

Union and Labor leaders said the UK government was turning its back on workers around the world and neglecting its commitment to fundamental human and labor rights in the fight to demonstrate the benefits of Brexit through free trade agreements outside of the European Union.

According to an investigation by the TUC, the union group that groups together, and its international partner, the ITUC, more than a third of the non-EU nations with which the UK has secured trade deals are abusing workers’ rights. .

Five of the 10 “worst countries in the world for workers”, according to the ITUC’s annual global rights index, have reached post-Brexit deals in the past two years. Up to 14 of the 24 countries where UK officials are negotiating trade deals also have a poor track record, including Brazil, Malaysia and India.

Earlier this year it emerged that UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had told staff that Britain intended to trade with countries with poor human rights records.

The TUC said the government needed to suspend some trade agreements and use its influence to ensure countries respect labor and human rights.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “A government that easily enters into agreements with countries that abuse rights abroad is one that will also not defend rights at home. It is time for ministers to stop the clandestine approach to trade agreements and bring workers to the negotiating table.

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Shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry said ministers had a moral obligation to make it clear to other countries that if they wanted preferential trade agreements, they must defend workers’ rights. Instead, she said:

“Liz Truss and her colleagues have done the opposite, handing over trade deals to dozens of governments with the worst records in the world for abusing and exploiting their workers, and actively negotiating with several more.”

The five countries identified in the world’s top 10 worst for workers’ rights by the ITUC include Colombia, where 22 trade unionists were killed last year, and Zimbabwe, where 13 nurses were arrested for requesting adequate PPE allowances in response to Covid. . -19. The others are Honduras, where strong measures have been imposed against protests; Egypt, where 26 steel workers were prosecuted for going on strike for unpaid wages, and Turkey, where 109 workers were subjected to violent treatment and mass arrests for protesting against unfair dismissals.

According to the ITUC report, abuses of the right to strike, the right to establish and join a union, the right to engage in trade union activities and the right to freedom of expression and assembly are at their highest point in eight years. . Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “When Covid-19 arrived, we knew who the heroes are. Workers everywhere cared for the sick, put food on our tables, and kept the economy moving. But despite all that, workers are being attacked like never before. “

A spokesman for the Department of International Trade said: “None of the continuity trade agreements that we have signed, and that have been scrutinized by parliament, have eroded national standards in relation to workers’ rights.”

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