Campaigning full throttle to stay in the EU is the only way to protect British workers


This article was first published on the Daily Mirror on 12 April 2016.

The EU isn't perfect but that isn't what we are being asked on 23 June - voters are simply being asked whether we want to remain in the EU or leave.

In coming to a view, Mirror readers will consider not only whether we are stronger, safer and better off in the European Union - we are - but whether Britain will be fairer, more equal and better placed to tackle big global challenges.

One of the biggest threats to working people in this era of globalisation is that their conditions and wages at work are played off against those of workers abroad.

Increasingly multinational companies seek to hold countries to ransom by demanding we match the lower levels of protections in other places as the price for carrying on their business here.

The EU sets minimum standards across all 28 member states helping prevent this race to the bottom.

Consequently through our EU membership Labour in government ensured British workers' got the right to minimum paid leave, rights for agency workers, paid maternity and paternity leave, equal pay, anti-discrimination laws, and protection when companies change hands.

It is unsurprising therefore that leading trade unions from the GMB to Unite have thrown the full weight of their memberships behind the campaign to stay in.

Many in our movement are concerned about the potential adverse impact of the proposed trade partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US on public services like the NHS.

But this is a view being promoted by many right wingers who want us to leave the EU and have no love of our NHS.

I've personally been assured by the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström that TTIP will not impact on public services like the NHS and parties of the Left in government across the EU tell me they would veto it if the deal did so.

The leave campaigners say we would gain "control" outside Europe, but being in gives people the security of more jobs, lower prices and growing businesses.

This economic opportunity is the control Mirror readers need and it would be put at risk outside Europe.

Of course the EU needs reform to ensure it does even more to build the progressive future we need to see, but you can only reform it if you are at the table, not if you are out of the room.

So there is no middle way if you believe in a more equal Britain -- campaigning full throttle to stay in the EU is the only option in this referendum.