In both cases unions' power to protect workers' rights through collective bargaining is sidelined or attacked. Nevertheless the TUC doggedly continues to claim, without a mandate, that support for EU structures and treaties will bring more benefits to workers than disadvantages in the name of "social Europe."
For instance the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) were once heralded by EU enthusiasts as proof of the good intentions of the unelected European commissioners. Yet, while they purport to protect agency workers, the overwhelming effect of the directive has been to normalise and institutionalise casualised labour. Even the Recruitment and Employment Confederation that represents employment agencies has found that the AWR have had little effect on those it represents.
Unions argue that the directive undermines Norwegian labour laws and introduces large-scale use of temporary and agency workers, forcing out permanent workers and weakening workers' rights and collective agreements. The directive also gives final authority over employment legislation to EU courts which have already struck down trade union collective bargaining rights in nearby Sweden and Finland in the Laval and Viking cases.
Brian Denny contributed articles to the pamphlet Social Europe is a Con published by Democrat Publications www.caef.org.uk.