Monday, 16 May 2016

Strengthen Your Struggle

As Paul Mason makes the case for leaving the EU, but only at a time when the campaign to do so was not being led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove (a vote to Remain would be Johnson’s fault, in particular; indeed, almost exclusively so), remember this:

1. Leave the EU to end attacks on rail workers
New EU rail policies are set to further entrench rail privatisation and fragmentation. That will also mean more attacks or jobs and conditions and EU laws will make it impossible to bring all of rail back into public ownership.

2. Leave the EU to end attacks on seafarers and the offshore workers
The EU has promoted undercutting and social dumping leading to the decimation of UK seafarers. The same is now happening in the offshore sector. EU directives also require the tendering of our public ferry services. 

3. Leave the EU to end attacks on workers’ rights
It’s a myth that the EU is in favour of workers. In fact the EU is developing a new policy framework to attack trade union rights, collective bargaining, job protections and wages. This is already being enforced in countries which have received EU “bailouts”. 

4. Leave the EU to end Austerity
If you join a union you expect members of the union to protect each other in times of trouble. The European Union has done the opposite. It has used the economic crisis to impose austerity and privatisation on member states. Instead of protecting jobs and investment, EU austerity is driving UK austerity.

5. Leave the EU to stop the attack on our NHS
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the United States will promote big business at the expense of government protections and organisations, including our NHS.

Environmental regulations, employment rights, food safety, privacy laws and many other safeguards will also be secondary to the right of corporations to make even bigger profits.

6. Leave the EU to support democracy
The vast majority of the laws that affects our lives are now made in the EU and not the UK. We have no say over those laws. As the late Tony Benn said in 1991:

“We are discussing whether the British people are to be allowed to elect those who make the laws under which they are governed. The argument is nothing to do with whether we should get more maternity leave from Madame Papandreou [a European Commissioner].”

RMT will be promoting the six key points direct to members across all sectors of the transport industry through the union’s RMT NEWS, through branches and reps and through the union’s social media platforms.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“RMT is proud to stand up for the tradition of progressive and socialist opposition to the European Union, an organisation wedded to privatisation, austerity and attacking democracy.

“It would be frankly ludicrous for a union like ours to support staying in a bosses club that seeks to ban the public ownership of our railways, attacks the shipping and offshore sectors and embraces the privatisation of the NHS and other essential services that our members depend on.

“RMT has set out the six core reasons for our members to vote to leave and we will be campaigning hard on this platform.”

And remember this:

Trade Unionists Against the EU has been invited to several trade union conferences in Europe and received best wishes from workers organisations throughout the continent.

Perhaps not enough has been done over the last three decades to link up in solidarity with our nearest neighbours in the EU as they too have faced the full wrath of the EU’s neoliberalism.

We sent a delegate to respond to the request of Greek unions to share some views.

They powerfully concluded, as reported in the Morning Star, that as a smaller economy with acute EU-related difficulties there was only so much they could do alone to resist the beast, and now they were looking to British workers to be resolute and campaign for a vote to leave the EU. 

French workers face a fundamental threat to their Labour Code mirroring the attack on us through the Trade Union Bill here, and reflecting the EU-wide attempt to sweep away workers’ and trade union rights, and particularly collective bargaining. 

The destruction of collective bargaining in the accession states was, for example, one of the EU’s conditions of their joining. 

The EU hasn’t exactly run to the defence of British trade unions as our collective bargaining coverage has dropped by 75 per cent over the last 35 years. 

A statement was issued to our delegates via a huge meeting in Paris in which French trade unionists expressed their hope that perhaps, at last, after the years of delusions following Jacques Delors’s speech to the TUC, our movement would reject the EU. 

Some years ago, we visited building workers in Sweden, one of a number of groups throughout the continent who had seen their terms and conditions and national agreements replaced by worse terms paid to deliberately imported labour from other EU countries. 

The notorious Viking and Laval cases followed, and the European Court of Justice, to no-one’s surprise, made it explicit that business and employers’ freedoms trump all workers’ protections. 

Norwegian trade unionists who have held a strong line through their unions against EU membership recently wanted us to attend one of their conferences to explain to us how important a vote to leave would be for workers everywhere. 

A follow up Conference in Trondheim, attended by nearly 600 trade union delegates in their regional TUC, issued a special statement to describe how important it was to them that we leave. 

Their statement below neatly sums up the hope of millions of workers throughout Europe that we will get it right: 

“To our fellow workers in the United Kingdom:

“In the near future you will be voting in a referendum on whether the UK should stay a member of the EU or leave the EU.

“Like you, we have a rightist government pushing austerity measures, forwarding privatisation, increasing class differences and increasing unemployment.

“Like you, the two biggest parties in Norway are in favour of EU membership: the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.

“Like you, the biggest employers’ organisation favours EU membership.

“The elite in Norway have tried to make Norway a member of the EU twice: in 1972 and in 1994. On both occasions, the Norwegian people voted no. 

“Keeping Norway outside the EU has been favourable for the working class. 

“Norway’s parliament is still the highest authority in Norway. About nine percent of EU law is implemented in Norway. 

“Norway controls its territorial waters and all fishing in its waters. Norway controls its oil resources. Norway is not subject to EU foreign policy.

“Norway has its own central bank that is not subject to the European Central Bank, and so on. 

“In this globalised world, workers are facing the forces of globalised companies. These global companies are undermining national sovereignty and democracy.

“We urge you to see the possibilities to strengthen your struggle by defending national self-determination and democracy.

“This means leaving the EU and struggling hand in hand with workers in Europe and around the world against EU, TTIP, TISA and other agreements that undermine national independence and democracy.

“Greetings of international solidarity.”

No comments:

Post a Comment