The attacks in Brussels this week have shocked us all. My thoughts are with everyone affected by these tragic events.
Thankfully, my team and I were safe within the Parliament and we managed to ensure that all of our staff were safe and accounted for. Security in Brussels and the European Parliament has been raised to the highest terror alert and of course we will respect and adhere to the official security advice.
In these difficult times we stand in solidarity with our friends in Belgium and people across Europe.
IN THE UK
EU Referendum Campaigning
Through street stalls, door knocking and leafleting, Labour Party members have been sharing the truth about the benefits of staying in the EU. Our last EU Referendum campaigning weekend was a great success and I was out with teams in Corby and Northampton.
Brexit campaigners continue to share myths on a daily basis and we need as many Labour activists out campaigning to protect workers' rights across the EU. Social Media will play a huge part in getting out the EU message and combating the myths. It would be great if you could help by sharing content from my Facebook page and Twitter (@GlenisWillmott) feed.
If you want to find out more about getting involved in the Labour In For Britain campaign, please contact Gail McDade at email@example.com or on 07734 77 00 04.
Recently, I met with Unite reps at the Toyota site in Burnaston to discuss work at the site and the upcoming EU Referendum. Toyota has said that they support the UK remaining in the EU. The Labour Party is campaigning to stay in the EU as we think it is best for British jobs and workers' rights. We'll continue to work with the trade unions to make sure that workers are put first in this debate.
Yet again the Tories have proven that workers' rights aren't at the top of their agenda. The use of zero-hours contracts has increased by 15%! Last year there were 1.7 million of these dreadful contracts in the UK - this is unacceptable!
Zero-hour contracts provide no security for British workers; how are you meant to get a mortgage with one of these contracts? With the UK Government refusing to tackle this issue, Labour MEPs have been calling for action at an EU level to prevent this abuse of workers.
Protecting Employees with a Terminal Illness
The TUC's Dying to Work campaign continues to go from strength to strength. The campaign aims to give more protection to workers with a terminal illness, including safeguarding their death in service benefits- money that can prevent families falling into poverty.
I am honoured to be the European spokesperson for this campaign and have been working on gathering support from MEPs and trade unions from across the EU. This campaign started in the East Midlands and has been raised with David Cameron and taken to the European Parliament. I will continue to keep you up to date with this important campaign.
You can watch Jacci's story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCf3Ds0ZYpE
International Women's Day
This month, Labour MEPs marked International Women's Day by voting for EU asylum policies to protect vulnerable women refugees, including those who have been subjected to violence and rape.
Unfortunately, UKIP MEPs decided to mark this year's International Women's Day by voting against this report. Clearly protecting vulnerable women isn't top of their agenda.
EU Funds for Free Milk for School Children
Children across Europe will eat and drink more healthily thanks to the European Parliament. Labour MEPs voted for new legislation, which will give EU countries the option to freely distribute fruit, vegetables and milk in schools using existing EU funding.
Milk is crucial for the wellbeing of young children and the UK has benefited from EU funding for milk distribution in schools. I was very disappointed that most Tory and UKIP MEPs voted against this proposal. This EU money is already available and using it to help nourish children, some of whom are in desperate need of good nutrition, is exactly what we should be using EU funding for.
Protecting Birds Across the EU
Local party members will know that I have long been calling for EU action to ban the spring hunting of birds in Malta. Boundaries don't stop birds, which is exactly why the EU works together to protect beautiful species like the Turtle Dove and the Bittern, the latter of which have been blooming in the Attenborough Nature Reserve!
Unfortunately, the Maltese Government don't seem to put the protection of birds at the top of their agenda and many readers will have seen the concerns of wildlife charities regarding the decline of the turtle dove, birds that migrate via Malta. These gentle birds have declined by 96% in the UK since 1970.
The EU Birds Directive has been a real EU success story with Birdlife Europe believing that the Directive has helped over 50% of endangered species. I will continue to call for EU action to protect birds, such as the turtle dove before they are wiped out of the UK.
Animal Welfare Matters
The continued widespread use of antibiotics on European farms not only raises serious animal welfare concerns, but also represents a real threat to human and animal health. In Europe we are already seeing the impact of increasing antibiotic resistance, for example with some of the world's highest rates of multi-drug resistant TB.
Recently, Labour MEPs voted to ban the routine use of antibiotics on healthy animals to help fight antibiotic resistance. Medicines should never be used as an alternative to maintaining good standards of animal welfare.
. . AND FINALLY . .
If there’s anything in this report you’d like further information about, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0115 922 9717.
Dame Glenis Willmott MEP DBE