Discrimination and Employment Law experts agree: Brexit would be “catastrophic”

January 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm (Anti-Racism, Civil liberties, Europe, Human rights, Jim D, law, rights, TUC, unions, women, workers)

Karon Monaghan

Saturday’s TUC/Equal Opportunities Review Discrimination Law Conference was, as usual, a highly informative event.

The driving force behind this conference (an annual event) is Michael Rubenstein, editor of Equal Opportunities Review and widely regarded as Britain’s leading expert on both equal opportunities law and employment law (he also edits the Industrial Relations Law Reports): unlike a lot of legal people, he makes no secret of his sympathy with the trade union movement.

Amongst the other distinguished speakers was Karon Monagham QC of Matrix Chambers, on ‘Sex and race discrimination: recent developments.’ Anyone whose ever Karon speak will know that she makes no secret of her left wing stance and passionate commitment to anti-racism, equal opportunities and trade union rights – how she ever got to be a QC is a bit of a mystery …

Karon spoke with authority on her subject, concentrating upon:

Karon noted that, “As to recent decisions of the Courts and tribunals, they’re a mixed bag. We have seen some worrying recent case law challenging some of the prevailing orthodoxy around the concepts of equality under the EA 2010 and related matters. We have also seen some progressive case law, in particular in reliance on fundamental rights protected by EU and ECHR law.”

In the course of her presentation, Karon made it clear that the EU Equality Directives, case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, remain potent and effective tools for all those concerned with defending human rights and trade union rights.

In fact, although it did not appear on the agenda, a recurring theme of the conference was the EU and the possibility of Brexit. In his opening remarks, Michael Rubenstein asked “Do you think Brexit and the Cameron government, together, are going to be good or bad for human rights, equal opportunities and trade union rights?” He added, laughing, “That’s a rhetorical question.”

During the final Q&A session, the panel were asked what they though the impact of a Bexit would be on human rights and employment legislation in the UK: Rubenstein replied with a single word: “catastrophic.”

The idiot-left who seem to think that something progressive can be achieved by getting out of the EU need to take notice of people who know what they’re talking about.



  1. Steven Johnston said,

    Oh what a load of crap! First they tell us it’s the tories that are the danger to our rights, now they tell us it’s leaving the EU. BS!

    • Jim Denham said,

      Steven, the working class and its organisations have always campaigned for legal protections, and reforms under capitalism etc: for instance, Marx and Engels were in favour of the campaign for an 8 hour working day:

      The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, had its origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life. The use of child labour was common. The working day could range from 10 to 16 hours for six days a week.[1][2]

      Robert Owen had raised the demand for a ten-hour day in 1810, and instituted it in his socialist enterprise at New Lanark. By 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan: “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”. Women and children in England were granted the ten-hour day in 1847. French workers won the 12-hour day after the February revolution of 1848.[3] A shorter working day and improved working conditions were part of the general protests and agitation for Chartist reforms and the early organization of trade unions.

      Karl Marx saw it as of vital importance to the workers’ health, saying in Das Kapital: “By extending the working day, therefore, capitalist production…not only produces a deterioration of human labour power by robbing it of its normal moral and physical conditions of development and activity, but also produces the premature exhaustion and death of this labour power itself.”[4][5]

      The International Workingmen’s Association took up the demand for an eight-hour day at its convention in Geneva in August 1866, declaring The legal limitation of the working day is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvements and emancipation of the working class must prove abortive, and The Congress proposes eight hours as the legal limit of the working day.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        The latest date you give in your answer is 1866, yet the UK did not enter the EU or EEC as it was known back then till 1973, so what is your point here? We have been in the EU for over 40 years and now face this :
        Plus austerity that has hit the disabled, spare room supplement, universal credits, cuts etc. Membership of the EU has done nothing to stop this.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Oh bloody hell, Steven: I honestly thought the UK was in the EU in 1866 and based my entire argument on that presumption … so grateful to you for putting me right on that . Obviously the working class’s need for legally-enforceable rights at work disappeared sometime around 1867.

  2. Steven Johnston said,


    Now we have the strange site of Morning Star readers and supporters moaning that the UK politicians are not doing enough to save the UK steel industry! Complaining that the Italians saved theirs and did it within EU rules. I won’t even go down the route of saying the UK steel industry does not belong to the working class of the UK but what is their point? That if the UK leaves the EU they will some how stop accepting cheap Chinese steel? That is odd as you’d think MS readers would love the fact that the UK imports steel from China.

  3. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    There is a strange argument used here and by many others Lefts, that the EU is some protector that naturally pursues a less right-wing agenda that the British government.

    Whilst there are obvious examples of present EU rules being less conservative than those of Cameron, there is nothing intrinsic in the nature of the EU to make this the case. A Corbyn (or Podemas, etc.) government would be likely to see various of its initiatives thwarted by an EU for being too left of its rules.

    So either way, it’s no argument for in or out.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      I agree, still those who campaign for a “People’s Europe” are good for a laugh.
      As socialists why aren’t we campaigning for World socialism?

    • Jim Denham said,

      Why Karl Marx would support membership of the EU:

      Karl Marx’s major statement about Free Trade was an address delivered to the Democratic association of Brussels, Belgium, on January 9, 1848, around the same time as he wrote the Communist Manifesto.

      Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 6, Lawrence & Wishart, London 1976:

      {p. 450} Karl Marx


      Gentlemen, – The Repeal of the Corn Laws in England is the greatest triumph of Free Trade in the nineteenth century. In every country where manufacturers discuss Free Trade, they have in mind chiefly Free Trade in corn or raw material generally. To burden foreign corn with protective duties is infamous, it is to speculate on the hunger of the people.

      Cheap food, high wages, for this alone the English Free Traders have spent millions, and their enthusiasm has already infected their Continental brethren. And, generally speaking, all those who advocate Free Trade do so in the interests of the working class.’

      But, strange to say, the people for whom cheap food is to be procured at all costs are very ungrateful. Cheap food is as ill reputed in England as is cheap government in France. The people see in these self-sacrificing gentlemen, in Bowring, Bright & Co., their worst enemies and the most shameless hypocrites.

      Everyone knows that in England the struggle between Liberals and Democrats takes the name of the struggle between Free Traders and Chartists. Let us see how the English Free Traders have proved to the people the good intentions that animate them.

      {p. 463} To sum up, what is Free Trade under the present conditions of society? Feeedom of Capital. When you have torn down the few national barriers which still restrict the free development of capital, you will merely have given it complete freedom of action. So long as you let the relation of wages-labor to capital exist, no matter how favorable the conditions under which you accomplish the exchange of commodities, there will always be a class which exploits and a class which is exploited. It is really difficult to understand the presumptionm of the Free traders who imagine that the more advantageous application of capital will abolish the antagonism between industrial capitalists and wage workers. On the contrary. The only result will be that the antagonism of these two classes will stand out more clearly. …

      {p. 464} Why should you desire farther to sanction unlimited competition with this idea of freedom, when the idea of freedom itself is only the product of a social condition based upon Free Competition?

      We have shown what sort of fraternity Free Trade begets between the different classes of one and the same nation. The fraternity which Free Trade would establish between the nations of the earth would not be more real, to call cosmopolitan exploitation universa1 brotherhood is an idea that could only be engendered in the brain of the bourgeoisie. Every one of the destructive phenomena to which unlimited competition gives rise within any one nation is reproduced in more gigantic proportions in the market of the world. We need not pause any longer upon Free Trade sophisms on this subject, which are worth just as much as the arguments of our prize essayists Messrs Hope, Morse, and Greg.

      For instance, we are told that Free Trade would create an international division of labor, and thereby give to each country those branches of production most in harmony with its natural advantages.

      You believe perhaps, gentlemen, that the production of coffee and sugar is the natural destiny of the West Indies.

      Two centuries ago, nature, which does not trouble itself about commerce, had planted neither sugar-cane nor coffee trees there. And it may be that in less than half a century you will find there neither coffee nor sugar, for the East Indies, by means of cheaper production, have already successfully broken down this so-called natural destiny of the West Indies.

      And the West Indies, with their natural wealth, are as heavy a burden for England as the weavers of Dacca, who also were destined from the beginning of time to weave by hand.

      One other circumstance must not be forgotten, namely that, just as everything has become a monopoly, there are also nowadays some branches of industry which prevail over all others, and secure to the nations which especially foster them the command of the market of the world. Thus in the commerce of the world cotton alone has much greater commercial importance than all the other raw materials used in the manufacture of clothing. It is truly ridiculous for the Free Traders to refer to the few specialties in each branch of industry, throwing them into the balance against the product used in everyday consumption, and produced most cheaply in those countries in which manufacture is most highly developed.

      If the Free Traders cannot understand how one nation can grow rich at the expense of another, we need not wonder, since these same

      {p. 465} gentlemen also refuse to understand how in the same country one class can enrich itself at the expense of another.

      Do not imagine, gentlemen, that in criticising freedom of commerce we have the least intention of defending Protection.

      One may be opposed to constitutionalism without being in favor of absolutism.

      Moreover, the Protective system is nothing but a means of establishing manufacture upon a large scale in any given country, that is to say, of making it dependent upon the market of the world: and from the moment that dependence upon the market of the world is established, there is more or less dependence upon Free Trade too. Besides this, the Protective system helps to develop free competition within a nation. Hence we see that in countries where the bourgeoisie is beginning to make itself felt as a class, in Germany for example, it makes great efforts to obtain Protective duties. They serve the bourgeoisie as weapons against feudalism and absolute monarchy, as a means for the concentration of its own powers for the realization of Free Trade within the country.

      But, generally speaking, the Protective system in these days is conservative, while the Free Trade system works destructively. It breaks up old nationalities and carries antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie to the uttermost point. In a word, the Free Trade system hastens the Social Revolution. In this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, I am in favor of Free Trade.

      First published in French as a pamphlet at the beginning of February 1848

      Signed: Karl Marx {end}

  4. Political tourist said,

    Tell the Greeks about the EU protecting workers rights.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Greece and a left-wing government; the UK and a Tory government: rather different situations, eh?

      • Steven Johnston said,

        So, what are the workers being asked to endorse here Jim but the continuation of capitalism inside or outside of the EU, which way would Marx have jumped?
        If we stay in will “we” have less control over our economic affairs? Or if “we” leave will “we” regain more control. Guess it might make sense if you are part of “we” but as I don’t have control over the economic affairs of the UK what difference does it make to me?

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Both are shafting their workers and both are in the EU, say do I see a pattern forming here?


      • Jim Denham said,

        “which way would Marx have jumped?” Steven, you seem not to have noticed: the answer is contained in the Speech on Free Trade, which you really should take the trouble to read.

  5. Steven Johnston said,

    Thanks Jim, I have read that article and sent it to anti-TTIP protestors to show that being opposed to TTIP is nothing to do with socialism. I hope you will be protesting against the TTIP protestors!

    • Jim Denham said,

      you really are very silly, Steven: just read Marx’s speech … then try to think.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        It’s all about how free trade is better than protectionism.

        “But, generally speaking, the Protective system in these days is conservative, while the Free Trade system works destructively. It breaks up old nationalities and carries antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie to the uttermost point. In a word, the Free Trade system hastens the Social Revolution. In this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, I am in favor of Free Trade.”

        So bring on TTIP. I’m not going to be opposed to TTIP and support capitalism, now that would be silly, eh comrades?

      • Jim Denham said,

        Do you not understand what Marx is saying, and why he’s saying it, Steven?

  6. Johnny Lewis said,

    TUC says the unions will campaign to stay in the EU:

    “There is a real danger that this campaign is turning into a debate between elites funded by the big banks on the one hand and hedge funds on the other,” O’Grady said, referring to some of the main financiers of the rival campaigns………….

    “What we need to do is start putting rights and jobs centre stage in the campaign debate,” O’Grady said. “The bulk of the rights at work that matter to us originated in Europe.”

    Question is whether TUC will follow the logic of Frances O Grady’s own argument and campaign independently from big business? Probably not.


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