Sunday, 3 February 2013

MSP Warns of 'Disastrous' Tory Attack on Scotland's Vulnerable

Plans by the Tories to heavily water down the UK’s commitment to the EU could be a disaster for women and the vulnerable, a leading MSP has claimed.

Christina McKelvie MSP has slammed a Conservative Party paper which endorses the Westminster government abandoning the EU social chapter – a move which would see Scotland lose key employment protections.

The Tory Fresh Start on EU document, with the foreword by Foreign Secretary William Hague, would see people deprived of equal pay, maternity leave, pension rights and human rights guarantees.

The document states that the UK could opt out completely from the ‘Social Policy’ section of the EU agreements - the principal part of the treaties used to protect social and employment rights.

The Tories are attempting to re-negotiate the UK’s role in Europe in advance of the in-out referendum on the country’s membership in the EU they now plan for 2017.

Last night Ms McKelvie, the SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse and a long time campaigner for social rights, warned:

“These Tory plans are potentially disastrous for some of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

“William Hague and his chums are either fools because they haven’t thought the consequences of their plan through - or they’re knaves because they simply don’t care.

“The Social Chapter is one of the main benefits people in Scotland get from being in the EU. It is a hugely valuable measure which protects low-paid workers, people with disabilities and women in particular.

“However, the Tories would happily sweep it away in an instant if they could. To even think of opting out of this critical piece of European legislation is a disgrace and an affront to those in Scotland who most need help."

She added:

“Social rights and protection of the vulnerable are vital, which is why they are now embedded across Europe. Now this Westminster Government wants to turn the clock back and return us to the labour and social values of the Victorian age.

“Never has it been clearer that a Yes vote in next year’s referendum is vital to the future of Scotland and its people. Only with independence can we be assured of Scotland’s continuing place in the EU and the security for all which our membership offers.

"To keep the benefits of these important social protection measures, Scotland needs to be in the EU club as an independent country - not governed by the Tory Bullingdon Club."

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