Update: 18 January 2017
The Prime Minister’s commitment to resolving the issue of EU nationals working in the UK, and British citizens working in Europe, is very welcome. Indeed we have been urging the Government to act unilaterally on this in relation to those EU nationals here who are our neighbours, friends and colleagues.
I hope the Prime Minister will keep up the pressure on those EU leaders not yet prepared to reach agreement on this issue because, as she says, it is “the right and fair thing to do”. All involved in these negotiations must recognise It is unacceptable to play politics with people’s lives.
Co-op Group CEO
Original: 21 June 2016
I’m pleased to tell you that the Government appears to have listened to the concerns that I, and others, have raised over the future of EU citizens living and working here in the UK.
The days following the EU Referendum brought great uncertainty to around 3,000 of our Co-op colleague members who have made their homes here.
Colleagues like Maria who’s from Greece and works as a Team Leader in one of our Food stores in Bedfordshire.
Maria has lived here for six years and has just bought a home with her partner, who’s also from Greece. “We have jobs here, and our friends are here, this is our home”, Maria told us. Maria has been worried about whether they’ll be allowed to stay in the country where they’ve put down such strong roots.
When we include our colleagues’ partners and children, we estimate that there are about 10,000 people in our wider ‘Co-op family’, anxious about their future.
As a Co-op and as a major employer in the UK I felt it was our responsibility to raise the issue on their behalf. I did so directly to George Osborne, the then Chancellor, when we met at a conference in the week following the Referendum result and then in a letter published in The Times on 29 June.
In the last few days the Government has confirmed to us that it “fully expects” that when we do leave the EU, the legal status of EU citizens living here, and our own nationals working in the EU, will be “properly protected”. That’s welcome news for Maria and all of our colleagues who’ve been so worried.
As a Co-op we speak out on matters of concern to our colleagues and our wider membership. It’s a responsibility we’ve always taken seriously and we’ll continue to do so in the years ahead.
Co-op Group CEO