The success story of the UK’s automotive industry in the EU was celebrated this week at an event hosted by Labour’s European leader, Glenis Willmott MEP. The event with the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) included a key note speech from the European Commissioner Lord Hill and focused on the importance of the industry to the UK’s economy.
Glenis Willmott, Labour’s leader in the European Parliament, said:
“Car manufacturing is on the rise in the UK, which is great news. In the UK, the automotive industry employs 700,000 people, and these are skilled, high quality jobs. We need to work with the automotive industry to ensure that they have the highly skilled workforce in the UK they need to continue growing, while providing high quality jobs and apprenticeships for young people.”
European Commissioner, Lord Hill, praised the UK’s motor manufacturing industry, describing it as “one of the outstanding British economic success stories of the past few years”.
The event provided the Commissioner with the opportunity to announce, on Commissioner’s Bienkowska’s behalf, the re-launch the Commission’s CARS 2020 process to ensure that there is a co-ordinated approach across the EU to face new challenges such as technological changes and globalisation.
Lord Hill highlighted the UK automotive industry’s long-term partnership approach between industry and government and encouraged other Member States to follow suit. He also emphasised the importance of the EU Single Market.
European Commission, Lord Hill said:
“The production of excellent cars, with parts manufactured across Europe, designed by the best in European talent- excellence that depends on a Single Market of 500 million people without barriers to trade. There are few better practical examples of the benefits of the European Union.”
Automotive companies see the importance of the UK being an influential member of the EU. A recent report commissioned by the SMMT found that 92% of automotive companies thought it was better for business for the UK to stay in the EU, the majority with reform.
Glenis Willmott MEP added:
“In 2013, car exports were worth over £24 billion to the UK’s economy. Conservative posturing about EU referendums isn’t doing Britain any favours, and when industries that are crucial to our economy talk about the importance of EU membership, I can only hope that David Cameron is listening.”
An East Midlands MEP has given her backing to a Nottingham family’s campaign for better hospital care of autistic children after the tragic death of their 4-year-old son Harry last year. After taking him to the Queen’s Medical Centre, they were sent home without any blood or ECG tests being done. Harry’s condition became severe just two days later and, despite attempts to save him, he passed away on 20th June.
Since then, his family have been campaigning tirelessly to change the guidelines used in hospitals to deal with autistic children who often suffer extreme anxiety from waiting hours in an unfamiliar environment like A&E.
Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said:
“The death of Harry Procko last year was an entirely avoidance tragedy that we must learn from. Despite his parents asking for basic tests many times and explaining his condition to doctors, Harry was not properly examined and treated. Tests have since shown that Harry’s liver and kidney problems could have been detected and treated.”
After Harry’s dad wrote to Glenis last year, she lent her support to his campaign for new guidelines which would be known as Harry’s Law.
Glenis Willmott MEP added:
“I am joining the campaign for Harry’s Law because autistic children need the best support in hospital to ensure this tragic loss of life never happens again.”
You can sign petitions started by Harry’s parents here and here.
A Labour MEP has called on the European Council to push forward with work on a proposed new Medical Devices Regulation. Glenis Willmott MEP, who is leading the European Parliament’s work on the proposed law, used an appearance of the Latvian Health Minister in the Public Health Committee to call for faster progress.
The updated legislation was first published in 2012 but although MEPs adopted their position over a year ago, EU Member States have so far not been able to agree. As Latvia assumes the presidency of the European Council, they have promised to make this legislation an absolute priority.
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s European Health Spokesperson, said:
“Scandals like the PIP breast implants and metal-on-metal hip replacements have only served to highlight that we urgently need to update the current law on medical devices. We must ensure that those authorising medical devices, especially high risk devices, have the necessary expertise.
“And I think we need a stronger system of post-market surveillance, so we can identify and respond to any problems with devices immediately. We’ve been discussing this legislation for a long time and now we need to move forward and get strong regulation in place.”
An East Midlands MEP has called for the EU to take urgent action over the pay and conditions of agency workers, after hearing first hand from workers and trade union representatives of the dreadful conditions they have been subjected to.
Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, met with agency workers, the GMB trade union and representatives from the European Commission. She raised issues around EU agency worker laws and in particular the so-called ‘Swedish derogation’ which allows agencies to opt out of equal pay if someone is permanently employed by their agency. Britain’s trade unions raised a complaint about this issue over a year ago but the Commission admitted this week they had not yet reached a final decision.
Glenis Willmott MEP said:
“The Agency Workers Regulation was meant to protect agency workers from exploitation and make sure they are treated the same as permanent workers. However, dishonest employers in the East Midlands and all over the country are using loopholes in the law to avoid treating agency staff equally.
“I was appalled by what I heard. The workers told me of pregnant women turning up for work at 6am and being turned away, while others said they had been subjected to racial abuse and intimidation.”
The agency workers are employed by a recruitment agency called Tempay Ltd, who work on behalf of Marks and Spencer. They are guaranteed only seven hours a week, even though they can be expected to work over 37 hours. If they are not available for every day of their rota they can be disciplined for absenteeism.
They are not entitled to the same pay as permanent staff who, for example, receive double the hourly rate on a Sunday. It is common for employees to be turned away from work regularly and not given with travel costs which means many end up out of pocket by the end of the week.
The GMB have accused Tempay Ltd of using these loopholes to pay huge numbers of staff a lower wage than their permanent colleagues. Some employees have worked in the same role on the site for eight years but cannot take out a loan, ask for a mortgage or even book a holiday because of their uncertain wages.
Glenis Willmott MEP added:
“What these workers have been going through is completely unacceptable. The UK government is already denying employees the rights they should have under European law. The Commission must make sure that British workers get the same rights that other EU workers get through this legislation. I would encourage anyone in the East Midlands who is in the same situation to contact me or a trade union.”