The Boris Johnson administration has been accused of rushing to sign post-Brexit trade deals with countries that systematically violate or deny workers’ rights, including five of the top ten worst criminals in the world.
Union and Labor leaders said the UK government is turning its back on workers around the world and neglecting its commitment to basic human and labor rights in the struggle to demonstrate the benefits of Brexit through free trade agreements outside the European Union.
According to research by the TUC, the trade unions and its international partner, the ITUC, more than a third of the non-EU countries with which the UK has trade deals abuse trade rights.
According to the ITUC’s annual global rights index, five of the ten “world’s worst countries for workers” have concluded post-Brexit agreements in the past two years. Up to 14 of the 24 countries where UK officials negotiate trade deals also have poor track records, including Brazil, Malaysia and India.
The TUC said the government must suspend and use its influence on some trade deals to ensure countries respect labor and human rights.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: “A government that easily reaches agreements with countries that abuse rights abroad will not defend rights at home either. It is time for ministers to stop clandestine trade deals and bring workers to the negotiating table. ”
Shadow Trade Minister Emily Thornberry said ministers had a moral obligation to make it clear to other countries that they must defend workers’ rights if they want preferential trade agreements. Instead she said:
“Liz Truss and her colleagues have done the opposite by handing trade deals to dozens of governments with the worst records in the world for the abuse and exploitation of their workers and actively negotiating with several others.”
The five countries that the ITUC identified in the top 10 with the worst labor rights in the world include Colombia, where 22 trade unionists were killed last year, and Zimbabwe, where 13 nurses were arrested for using appropriate PPE in response to Covid -Applied for allowances. -19. The others are Honduras, where tough measures have been taken against protests; Egypt, where 26 steel workers were prosecuted for striking over unpaid wages, and Turkey, where 109 workers were violently treated and mass arrests for protesting unjustified layoffs.
According to the ITUC report, abuse of the right to strike, the right to form and join a union, the right to trade unionists and the right to freedom of expression and assembly has reached its highest level in eight years. Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “When Covid-19 hit we knew who the heroes are. Workers everywhere took care of the sick, put food on our tables, and kept the economy going. But despite everything, workers are being attacked like never before. ”
A spokesman for the Ministry of International Trade said: “None of the continuity trade agreements we have signed and examined by Parliament have undermined national standards on workers’ rights.”