08 October: Last night the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) filed proceedings for a judicial review in the High Court to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to abide by the Benn Act, which requires him to ask for a 3 month extension to the Brexit deadline of 31 October if Parliament has not approved a Brexit deal.
The IWGB will ask for an injunction to restrain the Prime Minister from undermining the purpose of the Benn Act.
The case is particularly important to the IWGB and its members because of the impact Brexit and in particular a no deal Brexit will have on employment rights which are based on EU law. The IWGB has brought a number of high-profile cases which rely on EU law, including a £1m holiday pay claim against NHS contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL).
Despite the Prime Minister's lawyers promising that the extension letter will be sent in compliance with the Benn Act, the government has repeatedly contradicted this position by saying that under no circumstances would the UK stay in the EU beyond the 31st of October
As well as the IWGB, the claimants for the judicial review include two migrant workers, Maritza Castillo Calle and Wilson Ayala, and a UK-born “gig economy” courier working for TDL, Alex Marshall.
The case will run alongside a similar case brought by Liberty, and another one brought by Jolyon Maugham QC and Joanna Cherry QC MP.
IWGB General Secretary Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Low paid workers need every tool possible to fight exploitative bosses and EU law has been crucial in that regard. In a no-deal Brexit, Tory Brexiteers will have free reign to water down employment rights and workers will lose access to the European Court and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which the IWGB has relies on to defend its members. We will do everything possible to protect our members' rights and that's why we are bringing this case.”
Claimant, IWGB Cleaners and Facilities branch chair and migrant worker Wilson Ayala said: “I came to this country looking for a decent life, but quickly discovered that in the UK precarious migrant workers have to fight for every single one of our rights, whether through protests and strikes, or through legal action. Now Brexit has put not only our immigration status in play, but also the basic legal framework that we can use to fight for better employment rights. In the same way that we have fought for and won dignity at work, we will fight for our basic employment rights.”
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