Thoughts on post referendum Britain from Mark Dawson, Coordinator of Fairtrade Yorkshire and Mike Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation.
Mark Dawson, Coordinator of Fairtrade Yorkshire:
Now that Britain has voted to leave the European Union we are being asked to rally together as a nation. For those of us who support Fair Trade this means we must come together on an agenda of fairness and justice.
Ironically, at this time when we are being asked to affirm ‘British values’, the country is more divided than at any time in living memory.
There are dangers with coming together on agendas which do not promote justice. Certainly some of the visions of Britain outlined in the national newspapers have little to do with justice. Their vision of Britain is bordering on the pathetic, seeing our country only as a fearful, inward looking, hysterical place.
One agenda that we can all come together on is to back employment rights. Those rights which were ensured by the European Union, can be agreed upon and advanced by all our political leaders.
Employment rights, such as the minimum wage, maternity rights, sick pay, holiday pay, rights for those on temporary contracts and the right to have access to an industrial tribunal, should be placed at the heart of the agenda for Britain; with the Westminster Parliament guaranteeing these hard fought benefits.
A Britain which cares for its own workers, which improves the conditions in which they work, is one from which we can seek to improve the working and living conditions of all people who produce the goods that we enjoy, wherever in the world they may be.
Mike Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation:
The result of the European Union referendum won’t just affect the UK.
It will have a huge impact on the lives of the farmers and workers in developing countries who grow our food, too.
How that plays out – positive or negative – is in part down to all of us.
Put simply, as the UK begins to reshape its relationship with the EU, it will need to renegotiate how it trades with other countries, both in Europe and the rest of the world.
That could put farmers and workers in a vulnerable position.
Too often in the past, trade has been structured and regulated in a way that has given too much to those with power and wealth and too little to those who are powerless and poor.
Your support is needed now more than ever.
Fairtrade has shown that trade and business can be incredible forces for good, if the benefits are shared fairly. That way, everyone involved has the chance to earn a decent living, and protect their health, rights and the environment.
Over the coming months, and even years, we will need to work hard to ensure our politicians keep in mind the interests of poor farmers and workers as much as our own.
Together we will need to support them to get a fairer deal, so that they can send their children to school and invest in their futures, build strong communities and withstand the ravages of climate change.
I know that all of us who believe in a fair and just world can come together and fight harder than ever for exactly that.
As always, thank you for your support.
Chief Executive, Fairtrade Foundation