Green councillors have submitted a motion to the next meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday, requesting that the council maintain existing protections for workers and the environment in the event of the UK leaving the EU.
Greens say while they respect the outcome of the referendum nationally, steps should be taken that recognise the overwhelming support shown by residents of Brighton and Hove for remaining in the EU.
Protections and benefits for workers that stem from EU membership include: 28 days paid holiday, sick pay, rights for agency staff, temps and part-time workers, pregnancy and maternity leave, paternity leave, rest breaks at work, Equal pay, and Anti-discrimination rules on race, sex, disability, age and sexual orientation. These could all now be at risk once the Brexit process has been completed.
Greens have also pointed to the regulation of air and water quality, beaches and other environmental protections now under threat. Beaches in Brighton & Hove were awarded prestigious blue flag status by the EU in May, while the Council has been required to act on air quality in the city centre.
Proposer of the motion, Green Councillor Lizzie Deane, said:
“During the referendum campaign, Greens made a strong and compelling case to Remain in the EU based on the benefits it brought to Brighton & Hove residents, our economy and environment, and our place in the world. Despite the disappointing result nationally, we were pleased that Brighton & Hove agreed with us and overwhelming voted to remain.
“We are now in a period of political limbo, with a Government that has no mandate to negotiate the terms of our departure from the EU. We have had no firm commitments and at present, all the rights and freedoms that are set out in EU legislation are at significant risk.
“As a Council, Brighton & Hove has the power to act to restore some degree of confidence and certainty for the city’s residents by committing to maintain existing standards of protection for our local environment and the Council’s workforce. We hope that Councillors can set aside political differences and make that pledge”.
Councillor Tom Druitt, Green spokesperson for Economic Development and Culture, who seconded the motion, said:
“We are currently facing the biggest crisis in British politics in my lifetime. As the economic prospects for the city and the UK as a whole looks increasingly bleak, it’s all too easy for those of us who voted to stay in the EU to fall into despair.
“However, the worst thing we can do now is nothing. As a city, we have an opportunity here to commit to taking steps to protect our local environment and our workforce. A commitment now would send a clear statement that we will not meet the challenges we face by exploiting workers and trashing our environment.
“We received a very clear message on June 23rd that the people of Brighton & Hove value their European identity and do not buy into the narrative of ignorance and prejudice peddled by the official Leave campaign. We need to recognise this message and do everything we can to keep our links to our European neighbours”.