Brexit threat­ens rights of women

Rutherglen Reformer - - News from the Pews -

Par­lia­ment is back to work after the fes­tive break and the first week saw plenty of ac­tiv­ity.

In the area of health the First Min­is­ter out­lined de­tails of a £107 mil­lion boost for health and so­cial care in­te­gra­tion which will en­able more pa­tients to be cared for at home and cut de­mand for hos­pi­tal stays, re­duc­ing the prob­lem of de­layed dis­charge or bed block­ing, as it is of­ten called.

This fund­ing will en­sure that pa­tients can re­ceive more treat­ment in their com­mu­ni­ties, where we know they are more com­fort­able, but it also re­duces de­mand for acute hos­pi­tal us­age by re­duc­ing avoid­able ad­mis­sions and lengths of stay.

There was wel­come news last week on how our hos­pi­tals are per­form­ing.

The lat­est fig­ures on core ac­ci­dent and emer­gency per­for­mance show Scot­land’s NHS per­form­ing some 10 per­cent­age points higher than Eng­land in Novem­ber 2016 and 15 points bet­ter than Wales.

It was also good to hear that, fol­low­ing a chal­leng­ing period and the in­ter­ven­tion of the trans­port min­is­ter, Abel­lio Sco­trail per­for­mance has im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly over the fes­tive period. Nearly 90 per cent of trains ar­rived within five min­utes of sched­ule in the four weeks to Jan­uary 7. This was a six per cent rise on the pre­vi­ous four weeks and a 2.8 per cent im­prove­ment on the same period last year.

Whilst there is still room for im­prove­ment, this will be wel­come news to lo­cal com­muters and the gov­ern­ment will be press­ing Abel­lio to de­liver con­tin­ued im­prove­ments to meet their con­trac­tual tar­gets.

We also had an im­por­tant de­bate in par­lia­ment on Scot­land’s re­la­tion­ship with Europe, which fo­cussed on the im­por­tance of en­sur­ing that hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms are pro­tected and pro­moted dur­ing the Brexit process.

Speak­ing in the de­bate, I was able to point out that EU leg­is­la­tion en­sured that my rights as a woman, an em­ployee and par­ent are all pro­tected.

EU law also un­der­pins the rights for women to take paid time off for an­te­na­tal ap­point­ments, it safe­guards the rights of preg­nant women in the work­place and it also guar­an­tees ma­ter­nity leave for mothers.

The in­tro­duc­tion of parental leave, which guar­an­tees 18 weeks for par­ents, was also a di­rect re­sult of EU law, as is the right for par­ents and car­ers to take emer­gency leave to care for their chil­dren.

With­out th­ese pro­gres­sive mea­sures women would have re­mained sec­ond-class cit­i­zens in the work­place and the care of many thou­sands of chil­dren would have suf­fered.

Pro­gres­sive poli­cies and work­ers’ rights have al­ways been hard-won in Bri­tain but they are of­ten un­der­pinned by Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion.

Th­ese rights con­tinue to pro­tect peo­ple in all walks of life ev­ery day to en­sure that equal­ity is main­tained, dis­crim­i­na­tion is tack­led and above all that fair­ness is en­shrined in our le­gal sys­tem.

With­out the pres­sure of the obli­ga­tions that the UK is re­quired to up­hold as a con­di­tion of sin­gle mar­ket mem­ber­ship, we should all be con­cerned that pro­gres­sive poli­cies on work­ers’ rights would be at sub­stan­tial risk from suc­ces­sive ad­min­is­tra­tions in West­min­ster.

Not con­tent with drag­ging Scot­land out of the EU against our will, the Tories are also plan­ning to re­peal the Hu­man Rights Act and to with­draw from the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights.

This clearly sig­nals the Tories’ de­sire to shred the rights of or­di­nary peo­ple. They are promis­ing to in­tro­duce a Bri­tish bill of rights but we can have no con­fi­dence that Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment will draft a bill that pro­vides the same level of hard­won pro­tec­tions we cur­rently en­joy.

Thank­fully for Scot­land, the Hu­man Rights Act is em­bed­ded in the de­volved set­tle­ment and I am cer­tain that this par­lia­ment will not al­low fun­da­men­tal rights and free­doms to be re­moved at the whim of a UK Tory gov­ern­ment we did not vote for.

Work­ers’ rights have al­ways been hard-won in Bri­tain

Hol­i­day over Clare Haughey re­turned to Holy­rood after the fes­tive break

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