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UNISON leader Dave Prentis demanded yesterday that all public services should have exemption from the controversial TTIP trade deal between the European Union and the US.
Mr Prentis made the call after a reported commitment from the European Commission that the NHS would be “fully safeguarded” under the deal.
It came before co-ordinated street protests across Britain today to oppose the threat posed by TTIP to jobs and public services.
Demonstrations against the TTIP deal will take place in London, Edinburgh, Brighton, Manchester, Cardiff, Nottingham and other areas.
Senior European Commission trade negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero has written to John Healey, the Labour MP who chairs Westminster’s all-party parliamentary group on TTIP.
The letter states: “Although health services are in principle within the scope of these agreements and ongoing negotiations, we are confident that the rights of EU member states to manage their health systems according to their various needs can be fully safeguarded.”
John Healey welcomed the letter, which he said “confirms that the NHS can be fully exempted in any TTIP deal.”
Mr Prentis said the letter was “clear proof that Unison was right to campaign for the health service to be exempt from the agreement” — but argued that the EU commitment did not go far enough.
He called for the Commission to “exclude all public services from the agreement, and to make public the conditions of the secretive Investor State Dispute Settlements clause.”
Unison has warned that this TTIP clause could stop a future Labour government from reversing the Health and Social Care Act, which has imposed a market system on the NHS in England and Wales.
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