Linda Woodings Branch Political Officer is a Labour Candidate for Europe in the East Midlands

On the 22nd May 2014 elections to the European Parliament will take place; all 28 Member States will choose the MEPs who will represent them for the next five years.

It’s never been more important for trade unionists to play a major role in highlighting exactly what is at stake, in particular for our rights at work.

In the past, too many people have viewed European elections as a time when they can make a protest, or just not bother to vote.

There is a double threat this time round. It’s not just the Conservatives, whose menace we highlight elsewhere on this page. UKIP too pose a real danger.

Their simplistic (and to some, apparently plausible) message that it’s all the fault of Europe ,hides the reality of a reactionary party committed to scrapping the NHS, giving tax breaks to the rich, and giving credibility to racism.

In the East Midlands, the Labour European candidates are Glenis Willmott MEP, Rory Palmer, Linda Woodings,
Khalid Hadadi and Nicki Brooks. They'll all be on the campaign trail in the months ahead campaigning
to protect hard won rights for people at work.

From Linda Woodings,
Dear colleagues,

I'm both humbled and privileged to have been selected as one of the four candidates standing for Labour in the East Midlands, in addition to our existing MEP Glenis Willmott.

The 2014 European elections are vital to the future well-being of our country; our worker's rights, jobs and our future economic growth.

Only the Labour Party has promised to protect the employment rights that we get from membership of the EU (4-weeks paid holiday/year, improved and extended maternity rights and pay, equal treatment for agency workers and part-time workers and the Working Time Directive.)

I'm pleased that the CWU agreed at 2013 Annual Conference that UK workers best interests are served by the UK remaining in the EU and that Labour is the best party to ensure;

- that the UK is not sidelined by any new structures formed by the 17 'Euro' currency countries.

- that Europe becomes focussed on creating secure jobs and growth and less on subsidies

- that migrant workers should be protected from exploitation yet halting the undercutting of UK workers pay, terms and conditions.

- that we deal with the pressures on housing and public services caused in areas where there are larger numbers of migrant workers.

10 December 2013 - Over a thousand pounds a year better off – putting a figure on the benefits of EU membership (from Glenis Willmott Labour MEP for the East Midlands)

Just under a year ago, Ed Miliband gave a speech to the CBI indicating that it was clearly in Britain’s interests to remain in the European Union.

And I wrote shortly afterwards that it was time for UK businesses to “stand up and be counted” on this. Quiet words of concern to business associates around the dinner table were not enough.

To be fair, a number of business leaders have done just that; Richard Branson, Nissan’s boss Toshiyuki Shiga, the chairmen of BT, Deloitte, Lloyds and Centrica have all, very publicly, made it clear that for Britain to leave would leave us worse off. Eight out of ten British manufacturers support staying in, as does the finance industry.

And away from UK business on these shores, The USA thinks we should stay in and so does Australia. The list goes on and on.

Now, a year after the Labour Leader spoke to the CBI about our membership of the EU, the UK’s most influential business organisation has produced a report which puts some more detailed flesh on the bones of the argument for why we have to stay in.

And it is a body blow to those in the Tory Party and UKIP who want to leave the European Union.

The conclusions of the CBI report could not be clearer. Stating that “membership of the EU’s single market remains fundamental to our economic future,” the report confirms that 8 out of 10 CBI members– including 77% of SMEs – would vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU in a referendum if held tomorrow.

And perhaps most crucially they put a figure on just how much this country gains through being a member of a 500 million-strong market.

The net benefit arising from EU membership, according to the report, is “somewhere in the region of 4–5% of UK GDP or between £62bn and £78bn per year.” On average, this means that each household benefits from EU membership “to the tune of nearly £3,000 a year – with every individual in the UK around £1,225 better off.”

Interestingly, this is towards the top end of estimates made in a separate report a couple of years ago, and published on the website of the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BiS). The BiS report assessed British households as being between £1100 and £3300 per year better off; that’s between £457 and £1373 for every man, woman and child in Britain.

This growing body of powerful evidence means it’s becoming almost impossible now to make any valid economic case for Britain to leave the EU. That won’t shut up the Eurosceptic right, but their outrageous claims about the cost of the EU are no longer going unchallenged.

As the CBI report states: “There are direct budgetary costs to EU membership, but the net costs are less extensive than often reported and the price of membership is well worth the overall benefits secured.”


Union matters Trade Union issues in Europe • December 2013
from Glenis Willmott MEP, MEP for the East Midlands and Labour's Leader in Europe

Labour MEPs have voted to support a deal on Europe’s new long-term budget to last from 2014-2020.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said: “Although the deal is not perfect, it will still provide vital funding, helping to create jobs and growth.”

“There will be resources to fight youth unemployment, carry out vital medical and scientific research, as well as undertake projects in transport, energy and telecommunications.

“Here in the East Midlands, we know how urgently such financial support is needed.

“We must ensure that our region gets its fair share, and the next step in that process, now Europe has agreed the overall budget, is to make sure Britain makes use of all the funds available to us.

“We will be watching very closely to see the decisions the Tory-led government takes on this.”

Tories Cannot Be Trusted With Workers' Rights

Glenis is supporting Unions Together's campaign to stop David Cameron scrapping our rights at work.

Cameron's said he will renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU. He hasn't actually said what powers he wants to bring back but his previous statements on the issue have been crystal clear: "It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control."

Many people don't realise that it's EU legislation that guarantees things like the right to 4 weeks paid leave and breaks during the working day. It's also EU law that guarantees equal treatment for agency workers, extra rights for pregnant workers and makes employers responsible for their staff's health and safety. The government would be under no obligation to reinstate any of this if it were repatriated, and have given no guarantees that they would do so.

Tory MEP Martin Callanan has called for the Working Time Directive, Agency Workers Directive and Pregnant Workers Directive to be scrapped entirely, calling them a barrier to actually employing people. So one thing is
absolutely clear - workers' rights are not safe in Tory hands.


For the Tories and their friends in UKIP, health and safety rules are nothing but red tape to be slashed. Yet research shows that not only do they offer vital protection from work-related accidents and illness, they can also save businesses huge amounts of money.

Health and safety rules are there to help protect people by identifying and reducing risks. But across Europe, there is a growing tendency to treat these rules as a burden that can and should be removed.

In the UK, where misconceptions about health and safety are rife, David Cameron has made his feelings clear,
describing the health and safety culture as a 'monster' that he aims to 'kill off...for good'.

Yet far from being a financial burden on business, there is plenty of evidence that sensible health and safety rules can actually save businesses money.

It should be obvious really: safer, healthier work places lead to fewer accidents and absences, and increased
productivity and lower insurance costs as a result.

Occupational ill-health and injury leads to thousands of deaths every year in the UK, and cost £13.4 billion in 2010/11.

There are numerous examples of good health and safety practice bringing significant benefits to companies. For example, after introducing a revised health and safety framework, the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service saw a £100,000 reduction in insurance costs in one year, a 50% reduction in injuries at work and a 50% reduction in absences.

We're always hearing stories such as banning flip-flops in the office or children being stopped from playing
conkers. However, behind all these myths lies sensible legislation to protect people from genuine risks.

The Electromagnetic Fields Directive is just one example - a measured piece of legislation that balances reducing a potential threat with the needs of the healthcare sector.

The EU's Health & Safety Strategy helps set the priorities for resources and legislation in this area. The 2007-2012 Strategy, which I led on in the European Parliament, aimed to reduce accidents at work by 25%, both through legislation and by raising awareness and supporting exchange of best practice.

The evaluation of that Strategy recommended that the next one should seek further reductions in the cost of
occupational ill-health. It also called for a focus on musculoskeletal disorders, occupational cancers and stress. These can be long-term health problems that not only have a high human cost, but will also be a future strain on national health systems if they are not addressed.

The 2013-20 Strategy should have been in place by the beginning of this year. However, the European Commission have have only just launched a public consultation on the Strategy - the start of what is likely to be a long process.

The Commission has explained this lack of progress by citing lack of support from Member States for more health and safety legislation at present, with some governments even seeking to weaken existing rules.

However, it would seem that the current backlash has less to do with actual facts but rather with political attempts to use the current economic climate as an opportunity to strip away workers' rights.


Under law the union has to hold a full membership ballot every 10 years in order to keep a Political Fund. Each time members vote 4:1 in favour of keeping the fund and giving the union a voice in Parliament.

Without a Political Fund the union will have no voice in Parliament. Every campaign with a political aspect, even a stamp on a letter to a Member of Parliament has to be paid for from the unions Political Fund. The union is not allowed to use money from its General Fund to pay for any activity deemed to have a political aspect - the Tories made this illegal!

In the last few years the CWU has used our Political Fund to campaign successfully for:

  • Equal Rights For Agency Workers - campaigning in the European Parliament and Westminster - Legislation implemented 1st October 2011.
  • Campaigning against the Break-Up of BT - into separate companies. This would be disastrous for terms and conditions, national pay bargaining and pension funds - Openreach set up with 'chinese walls'.
  • The Remote Sourcing 'Pink Elephant' campaign - to keep Call Centre jobs in the UK. We lobbied MP's and the DTI. We organised fringe meetings at party conferences and the TUC - public awareness campaign hugely successful and companies now bringing back substantial numbers of call-centre jobs into the UK - including BT.
  • Regulating the regulators - we lobbied to ensure industry regulators, such as OFCOM & POSTCOMM were accountable to the public and had stated aims to protect public services - not just to increase competition - OFCOM & POSTCOMM have 'maintaining public service' as a stated aim.
  • The Broadband Campaign - We arranged seminars with small businesses and a DTI minister on universal access. We achieved changes to the OFCOM bill ensuring the new communications regulator was given public access to broadband as a target and funded research papers into wireless broadband and circulated them to rural MPs - UK has high levels of Broadband coverage and we are currently lobbying re; the funding of fibre optic network.
  • Protecting Pensions - Measures have been put into UK law to protect the future security of Pension Funds - our former Deputy general Secretary (Telecoms), Jeannie Drake, was instrumental in putting into place the Pension Protection Fund into UK law which protects 90% of the worth of a final salary pension scheme.

It is essential that your Union has a Voice and is able to fund political campaigning.

We need to keep a Political Fund to campaign to protect YOUR JOB!