UK seeks trade deals with workers' rights abusers

Post-Brexit UK seeking trade deals with workers' rights abusers, says trade union
2 min read
30 June, 2021
A British trade union group is concerned that the UK is making post-Brexit deals with countries that are some of the worst human rights abusers in the world.
Boris Johnson is seeking trade deals with several countries [Getty]

A UK trade union group is concerned the government is making post-Brexit deals with countries with poor workers' and human rights records.

Research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the ITUC, its international counterpart, found that more than one-third of non-EU nations that the UK has confirmed trade deals with are abuse workers’ rights, The Guardian reports.

"When Covid-19 hit, we learned who the heroes are. Workers everywhere cared for the sick, put food on our tables, and kept the economy moving. But despite all that, workers are under attack like never before," ITUC general secretary said.

These countries include Malaysia, India, and Brazil.

Egypt, where 26 steelworkers were prosecuted for striking over unpaid wages, and Turkey, where workers were met with violence for protesting against unfair dismissals, were also included in the list.

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As many as 14 of the 24 countries where UK officials are negotiating trade deals have a history of shoddy human rights records.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: "A government that readily agrees deals with countries which abuse rights abroad is one that won't stick up for rights at home either.

"It’s time for ministers to stop the clandestine approach to trade deals and bring working people to the negotiating table."

Last year, the UK signed a free trade agreement with Turkey - the first of its kind since Brexit. It took effect on 1 January and ensured the flow of goods between the two countries after the UK formally left the European Union.

It is one of several deals the UK is currently seeking, in order to fill the gaps left by the European Union.