The EU Has Done More for Social Justice Than Any Tory Government Ever Has

10/05/2016 17:43 | Updated 10 May 2016

Iain Duncan Smith's line in his Brexit speech today was that the European Union is a 'force for social injustice'.

This might be a nice soundbite but it could not be more wrong.

The EU has done more for social justice and protection of workers than any Tory government ever has.

It is because of our membership of the EU that we have so many of the rights at work that we now take for granted.

The EU gives workers in this country a legal right to 28 days paid leave. It guarantees agency workers the same rights as permanent full-time workers. It guarantees mums and dads maternity and paternity leave. It guarantees workers anti-discrimination laws and equal pay. And it provides employees with rights if firms plan collective redundancies, go bust or are transferred to new ownership.

All these things and more our membership of the EU has given us. In the words of Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC and surely a better spokesperson for workers' rights and welfare than an ex Tory Minister, "the bulk of the rights at work that matter to us originated in Europe".

Iain Duncan Smith may present himself as an authority on social justice but his record in Government tells us otherwise.

It was his Government that gave us the Bedroom Tax which has caused three-quarters of those affected to cut back on food in order to pay for rent. It was his Government which also gave us £12billion cuts to the welfare budget, hitting the poor, the vulnerable and disabled people hard.

Today he complains that the EU was causing wages of British workers to be undercut, yet this is the same person who opposed the introduction of the National Minimum Wage calling it "the wrong way to go".

It's the same Iain Duncan Smith who today worries for workers' rights and jobs yet in 1992 and again in 1997 campaigned to keep Britain out of the European Social Chapter which underpins many of the employment rights we so often take for granted.

No one should take Iain Duncan Smith's lectures on social justice seriously given his own record and lack of credibility.

The real risk is that if we leave the EU a future Tory Government would be free to launch the assault on rights at work they have long been campaigning for. So if its workers' rights, workers' wages, workers' holidays you are concerned about then vote to Remain In Europe on 23 June.

Jon Ashworth is Labour MP for Leicester South and shadow minister without portfolio