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Thousands of campaigners protested at the weekend against a free trade agreement granting multinationals the right to sue countries for having to pay corporation tax.
Opponents of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) hosted events across Britain on Saturday, including large demonstrations in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Cardiff.
Charity War on Want executive director John Hilary told the Star: “The actions around the country showed the rising outrage of ordinary working people at the powers that TTIP would give to transnational capital.”
The agreement would standardise European Union and US industry regulations, as well as removing duties on goods and services traded.
It is under discussion this week in Brussels.
But critics fear that the real consequences of the deal would be felt by the most vulnerable in society, as TTIP would promote further privatisation of the public sector, including schools and NHS services.
“We don’t want to see health services, education, postal services or any other being given away to private-sector involvement,” added Mr Hilary.
To many, the most disconcerting issue surrounding TTIP is the inclusion of a Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision in the talks.
It would enable companies to legally challenge the countries hosting their investments for what EU commissioner Karel de Gucht described as “discrimination and unfair treatment.”
Trade unions have highlighted how the measure could mean the effective outlawing of the nationalisation of industries.
General union Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The most significant effect will be felt in health, enabling US healthcare multinationals and Wall Street investors to sue the UK government in secret courts if it attempts to reverse privatisation.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable denied the claims, even arguing that “the NHS will always be there for everyone who needs it, funded from general taxation, free at the point of use.”
This week’s discussions are expected to be fraught with disruption as campaigns continue to take action on the other side of the Channel.
On Tuesday July 15 over 120 citizen groups from across the EU will be launching the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), lobbying the EU not to sign TTIP. One million signatures will be required.
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