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Why you should back No2EU

BOB CROW explains how the European Union agenda harms workers' rights

On May 22 we are asking you to lend us your vote and back No2EU: Yes to Workers' Rights, an electoral coalition that supports workers' rights, decent public services and peace. The European Union is a threat to all those things.

Across Europe unemployment is exploding while the EU intensifies its attacks on workers' and trade union rights and the public services they rely on.

On top of that the EU is deploying troops in Africa on the pretext of humanitarian intervention while funding fascists in Ukraine to overthrow the elected government.

All these imperialist antics are being carried out in our name as, under the Lisbon Treaty, we are now EU "citizens."

Public services, including postal, transport, energy, education and health services, are being privatised as part of the EU austerity agenda being imposed on member states by unaccountable EU institutions.

But the voices of working people are not being heard.

The failure of the major parties to represent them has led to a political vacuum which is being filled by Tory outriders like Ukip or, worse, groups like the British National Party.

Yet the major parties, including the Green Party, continue to tell workers to put up with EU membership because of alleged benefits from EU legislation such as the working time directive and the agency workers' directive.

But these very limited and fast-disappearing "rights" represent little more than a sugar-coating for the EU liberalisation and privatisation agenda.

Moreover none of these "rights" deal effectively with mass unemployment or the introduction of zero-hours contracts and low-paid workers being forced to work in multiple jobs.

So why haven't the much-lauded EU Agency Work Regulations defended these vulnerable workers?

First, the regulations that claim to ensure agency workers enjoy the same basic pay and conditions as permanent workers only kick in after 12 weeks on the same temporary assignment.

Then the so-called "Swedish derogation" in the regulations assists employers to avoid any obligation for workers to receive basic pay and conditions comparable to a permanent worker.

The directive is actually normalising casualised labour as a new reality for millions of workers.

The EU is also stripping workers of their rights through harsh anti-trade union EU court rulings and strict bailout conditions on many states.

For instance, in Romania the EU has demanded an end to collective bargaining. In a country where 98 per cent of workers were previously covered by collective agreements, that figure has been reduced to little over 20 per cent.

The EU is imposing endless austerity on hundreds of millions of people through series of treaties, diktats, directives and bailouts at the behest of big business and the banks that caused the current financial crisis.

This is driving millions into poverty across Europe by imposing austerity measures particularly in countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus, among others. The pro-EU Tory-Lib Dem coalition is happy to follow suit.

The EU and the US are also currently secretly negotiating a treaty designed to open all service sectors, including health, to so-called "competition."

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) poses a severe threat to the very existence of our National Health Service.

TTIP opens all public services to competition and healthcare is treated the same as education, construction, transport, waste disposal as another opportunity for profit.

Under TTIP, lawsuits can be brought against national governments and a panel of lawyers will award damages based solely on commercial considerations.

This is being imposed without democratic discussion, negotiated by the EU and requiring no approval of national parliaments.

This EU business model of liberalisation, privatisation and fragmentation is already doing a lot of damage to our transport and postal services in the name of corporate profits.

Under the EU's fourth rail package, the EU is pushing for the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering and privatisation for all rail services across Europe.

But No2EU wants to see a different Europe - one made up of democratic states that value public services and does not offer them to profiteers, states that do not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe that EU structures and rules make this impossible.

Vote No2EU on May 22 to say:

  • Yes to workers' rights
  • n Exit the EU on the basis of socialist policies
  • n Keep Britain out of the eurozone
  • n No to austerity whether from Brussels or Britain
  • n Reject EU treaties and directives that curtail democracy, encourage social dumping and demand privatisation
  • n No to EU trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US which threaten our NHS
  • n Scrap EU rules preventing member states' control over economic policies
  • n Develop sustainable manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries in Britain
  • n Repeal anti-trade union EU court rulings
  • n No to racism and fascism and Yes to international solidarity of working people
  • n No to EU militarisation and an EU army
  • Restore democratic powers to EU member states.

 

Bob Crow is convener of No2EU. For more information visit www.no2EU.com

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