Congress agreed today (September 13) that workers rights should be front and centre in any future Brexit negotiations, with trade unions having a firm seat at the table to be the voice for working people.
But Unite delegate Jayne Taylor, who spoke in overall support of the composite, expressed dismay that an emergency motion seeking support for Gibraltar and its workers post-Brexit did not make it on the TUC conference’s agenda this year.
“On June 23rd, 84 per cent of the territory’s population voted by a remarkable 96 per cent to remain within the European Union,” she said.
“Gibraltar and its people believed, and continue to believe in the European Project.”
Taylor explained that while Gibraltar is a British Overseas territory, it is not part of the UK.
“It is self-governing, and self-sufficient,” she noted. “Their membership of the European Union however hinges on the fact that the United Kingdom is part of the European Union.”
Taylor highlighted that critical to Gibraltar’s success is “free access to the European Market and the free movement of labour and goods”.
“Without these mechanisms, and the means to police it, the central government in Madrid, the right wing Partido Popular, would re-adopt the fascist policies of the dictator Franco,” she argued.
This, Taylor explained, would mean a policy of cutting off Gibraltar altogether from the mainland by stopping or restricting the flow of people and goods across the Gibraltar/Spain border.
“Over 40 per cent of Gibraltar’s workforce is non-resident, where most travel across the land frontier on a daily basis to reach their workplaces.
Taylor warned that the Spanish government has already made its intention clear to “make Brexit as painful as possible for Gibraltar.”
“[The Spanish foreign minister] is demanding joint British and Spanish sovereignty initially with a full transfer of powers to Spain in the near future,” she said.
“This is a price that the people of Gibraltar are not willing to accept, having explicitly manifested their self-determination to remain a British Territory in two separate referendums,” Taylor added.
“The workers of Gibraltar cannot trust a Conservative government nor can they trust a Partido Popular government in Spain, all the while being out from the protections offered by the EU.
“This new ‘Troika’ of negativity is the perfect storm that Gibraltar has always wanted to avoid but it is feared that the worst is yet to come, and sadly, Gibraltar’s voice will once again be drowned against the interests of business and state.”
Taylor noted that the emergency motion not taken up at the TUC conference this year called on the trade union movement “to support the rights of Gibraltar to fully participate in the UK-EU negotiations, irrespective of the blackmail undertaken by the Spanish state, in order to negotiate a package that will meet the needs of all the people of Gibraltar.”
“Spain’s blackmail will not prosper,” she affirmed as she urged Congress to support the composite.