27 March 2017

With just days to go until the UK triggers Article 50, Labour Louth Senator Ged Nash has called for an Early Warning System to be introduced to help protect Irish workers and industries that are vulnerable to Brexit.

The all-Island warning system would bring together trade unions, employers and other stakeholders to identify sectors and firms at particular risk as market conditions change and adapt, and is one of 20 actions being proposed by the Labour Party to tackle the challenges posed by Brexit.

Senator Nash, who is the party spokesperson for Labour Affairs and Workers’ Rights, commented:

“We now have just days to go until the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, officially begins the exit process, and there are still many unknowns as to how Ireland will be impacted.

“What we do know however, is that some sectors will be particularly exposed to market shocks as a result of Brexit. We need to move fast to identify these, and ensure that the proper supports are in place to support the sectors and workers in the face of such challenges. If a company is in trouble, there should be a clear pathway in place for State agencies to be informed, and the necessary supports put in place.

“What we need now is concrete action from Government. For months, calls from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for an Early Warning System have been ignored. The Labour Party has also consistently advocated for an Employer-Labour conference to address growing industrial relations issues, and such a structure could be supported through local authorities to react to the challenges of Brexit.

“I have long argued that the Border Counties are in a unique position when it comes to Brexit, with many businesses relying on Northern Ireland for trade. However, as we are now facing a situation where the devaluation of Sterling is likely to be a semi-permanent feature of the landscape and a hard border may be in place, it is clear that a long term strategy needs to be developed to counter the effects.

“The Government should also seek to amend the rules of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund so that it is available to retrain any workers who lose their jobs due to Brexit. We are also calling for the Fund to be used to help companies- identified by the Early Warning System- to stem losses and re-skill staff to adapt to new market conditions.

“Brexit will have a huge impact on the Border area and we need to put in place policy responses now. I am calling on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Taoiseach to pursue these sensible solutions before it is too late.”

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