The British Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called on Theresa May to face down hardliners to protect the Good Friday Agreement. Its general secretary Frances O’Grady said the draft EU Brexit withdrawal agreement, published last week, would deliver the Prime Minister’s promise of no hard border in the island of Ireland
The EU draft is based on commitments made in negotiations between the UK and EU27 last December.
“She must face down the hardliners in her party and put all options for a final deal back on the negotiating table. That’s the best way to protect jobs, rights at work and the Good Friday Agreement,” according to O’Grady.
Writing in the Guardian, the TUC leader said trade unionists know peace on the island is precious and fragile. “Over many years, the TUC worked with friends in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to help achieve it. Throughout the troubles, trade unions tried to build bridges between working people from different communities. And at the Good Friday Agreement referendum, unions came out in support of the deal and encouraged members to vote yes,” she said.
She said unions supported the peace treaty as the best way of promoting jobs and a stable economy, and “because working people in Northern Ireland are entitled to peace, prosperity and civil rights.”
Meanwhile ICTU’s Belfast-based assistant general secretary Owen Reidy called on the British government to listen to the voices of the trade unions and industry. “It is time the UK Government, in the interest of all people across the UK, started to negotiate in a logical and reasoned fashion. The ideal solution is that the EU and the UK negotiate a deal which avoids a hardening of the border on the island of Ireland,” he said.