THE general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has discussed how Scotland can still benefit from advances in workers' rights in the EU despite Brexit.

Speaking on The National’s Our Friends in Europe podcast, hosted by National columnist Assa Samake-Roman, Esther Lynch discussed a wide range of issues including how the EU is protecting workers’ rights, what makes a country competitive, and showing solidarity with Scottish workers despite Brexit.

She spoke of how trade unions are working hard throughout the EU to encourage people to vote for those who support the ETUC manifesto which is “delivering a fair deal for workers”.

“The European Union can be a progressive project for working people and their trade unions but it all depends on the democratic process and the democratic process is that workers voting for progressive parties and then making sure that they deliver the set of demands,” she said.

European Parliament elections are set to take place this June. 

It was then put to Lynch that workers in Scotland may feel “bittersweet” hearing how the ETUC is working to improve workers’ rights given it is no longer part of the EU after Brexit.

Asked how Scotland can benefit from advances in the EU, Lynch said that part of this revolves around “collective bargaining solutions”.

“The same company might operate in Scotland, in Sweden, in Germany and different parts of the European Union so the real value of the ETUC is bringing together trade unions, swapping strategies and how we approach different problems.

“Or it might be different advances. One of the big campaigns that a lot of trade unions are working on is moving to a four-day week without a loss of pace so that’s one of the campaigns.

“Other ones – how do we introduce artificial intelligence in a way that helps workers rather than create new threats.

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“A lot of what we do is achievable through membership of a union and bargaining.”

She added: “When it comes to how the ETUC can leverage the rules which are already in place in the EU to assist workers and their unions who are outside the EU then it’s trade deals.

“We try to make sure to put a lot of pressure onto the EU to say do not conclude a trade deal that will allow for competition on bad pay and conditions, below the threshold that’s already established to protect workers in the EU.”