Unite chair Liam Gallagher says Brexit will hit workers and the border area

Liam Gallagher.
Liam Gallagher.

Londonderry trade unionist Liam Gallagher has warned Brexit poses a threat to local authority workers and that management may ‘harmonise’ down rights for workers in merged councils across Northern Ireland.

After a meeting of the union’s representatives across all eleven super-councils in the Maldron Hotel, Mr Gallagher, chair of the Irish Executive of Unite spoke of his fears that a vote to Brexit could threaten workers terms and conditions, particularly those in local authorities.

“Unite represents workers in all eleven local authorities in Northern Ireland. Today’s meeting heard reports that negotiations are continuing across councils to agree the new pay grades and terms and conditions for workers transferred across from legacy councils.

“There are particular concerns that a vote for Brexit will open the door for management to attempt to undermine our members’ hard-won conditions and harmonise downwards grading and terms and conditions.

“Unite’s National Executive voted overwhelmingly to promote the case for a ‘remain’ vote in the upcoming EU Referendum.

“We consider that Brexit would result in an economic shock potentially threatening our members’ jobs. There are also concerns that a vote to Leave would give the hard right of the Tory party an opportunity to undermine workers’ rights and environmental protections in the absence of a European Court.

“The impact of a Brexit vote is likely to be even worse in border areas and the northwest, in particular, where uncertainty over trade tariffs and restrictions on cross-border trade and the possibility of border immigration controls threaten to disrupt and dislocate the regional economy.

“We recognise that the EU is not perfect but we are asking workers to vote Remain in order to reform it from within”, Mr Gallagher said.