Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
5:09 AM 17th November 2020

UK And Norway Unions Call For Trade Deals That Deliver For Workers

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO-Norway) has joined forces with the TUC to warn that any UK trade deal must put workers’ jobs and rights first, as lead negotiators from Norway and the UK meet to advance trade talks between the countries.

In a statement released today, LO-Norway and the TUC say trade deals must support a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic built on decent work, fair wages and the welfare of society.

UK-EU Deal

The TUC and LO-Norway say it is in interests of all workers that the UK secures a deal with the EU that locks in a high standard of rights. Without this guarantee, the door will be open to “a race to the bottom” on rights.

The union bodies say a UK-EU deal should also safeguard jobs by ensuring trade is as frictionless as possible in goods and services, protect public services and guarantee there is no hard border in Northern Ireland.

UK-Norway deal

The statement also outlines a series of key requirements for any UK-Norway deal, including:

Enforceable protections for workers’ rights – including the rights of migrant workers
Use of public procurement and state-owned enterprises to support economic development, improve working conditions and pursue social and environmental objectives
Protections for all public services
The ability of governments to regulate services in the public interest

Commitments for UK and Norway governments to support and implement the Paris Agreement and policies to support just transition

Full involvement of trade unions in trade negotiations
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:“We’re approaching a crunch period for jobs and livelihoods.

Frances O’Grady
Frances O’Grady
“That’s why we’re standing with Norwegian trade unions today to make clear to UK government that we will not accept a race to the bottom on workers’ rights.

“And we need to start by securing a good deal with the EU as our biggest trading partner – the clock is ticking. The economic double whammy of coronavirus and an acrimonious EU exit would hit workers hardest.

“A bad deal that fails to safeguard jobs and workers’ rights – or a no deal – would be a betrayal of working people and would push us further into the depths of an unemployment crisis and put hard fought workers’ rights on the line."

Hans-Christian Gabrielsen
Hans-Christian Gabrielsen
LO-Norway president Hans-Christian Gabrielsen said: “LO-Norway stand united with the TUC. We will not accept a race to the bottom for workers’ rights.

“We build our societies and work life on modern, just and safe regulations securing equal rights for all. Any trade deal will have to live up to the same standards. It’s time to deliver.”