The UK’s opt-out on a charter of human and social rights, negotiated by Tony Blair at the European Council meeting which ended on Saturday 23 June, has been branded as “extremely disappointing” by the TUC.
The deal was reached in Brussels as part of a new EU treaty which is designed to reform the way Europe works.
Britain has been allowed to opt out of a 50-article charter containing an exhaustive list of well-established rights – from freedom of speech and religion to education and fair working conditions.
UK representatives were concerned at the charter’s impact on business and its legal system.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “It is extremely disappointing to see that UK workers and citizens are to enjoy fewer rights than those in the rest of Europe following the opt-out.
“Are we to think that the UK economy can only prosper by treating UK employees worse than others in Europe?’
Employers’ groups feared the charter would strengthen trade union rights, including the legal right to strike and secondary picketing.