Lisbon Treaty No call by UNITE
With days to go before the second referendum on the Lisbon treaty, UNITE, Irelands second largest trade union, has called on all its 60,000 Irish members around Ireland to vote NO and make a stand for workers rights.
“A No vote is needed to prevent Irish and European workers rights being ignored by our own government and dismantled by the European Courts, said Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of UNITE.
The union was one of the leading opponents of the treaty in 2008 and its opposition second time around is based on the lack of any progress in the critical area of workers rights. The union has held meetings with officials, workplace representatives and shop stewards all around the country. “The response from our members in every county has been one of support for the workers rights agenda. Nobody wants to see the gains made over many decades being subjected to the whim of the European Court as has been the case in recent judgements.
“We are told by government and even by some trade unions that workers rights will be protected under Lisbon and that we are scare-mongering, but when the Irish government went seeking legal guarantees they got them in areas of taxation, of morality, and in numbers of commissioners but not in relation to workers rights.”
“In relation to workers rights all we got a ‘solemn declaration’ that is worthless given the way in which the European Courts have interpreted those rights as being subservient to the needs of business.”
“We are asked to have faith in our own government, that they will bring forward legislation that will protect Irish workers. We say today that we are fed up waiting for this legislation and that we have no faith in this government’s ability or even willingness to deliver.”
“Irish workers are alone in Europe as having no legal right to representation by a union. Irish workers are alone in Europe as having no provision for pension protection. Irish workers are alone in Europe as the only ones whose right to fair pay and employment security are considered by their government as obstacles to economic recovery.”
“UNITE and colleagues across Europe sought the inclusion of a social progress clause in the Lisbon Treaty which would make it clear that the fundamental right to organise and the right to strike are in no way subordinate to the economic freedoms pursued by the EU member states.”
“This was rejected prior to the first referendum and ignored again prior to this second. Voting yes to Lisbon in the face of this would enshrine Irish workers lack of fair treatment as being alright in the eyes of Irish politicians and of the Irish people. EU institutions would continue to follow a business over labour ideology which is too loaded against workers all across Europe.”
“Lisbon is not about Ireland’s place in the EU. UNITE fully supports the vital role which Europe plays in the everyday lives of Irish citizens.”
“Fourteen months ago the Irish people stood up for the rights of working people all across Europe. We earned the right to go back to the EU and to clarify and secure elements of the workings of the Union that are essential to get right.”
“The Irish government emerged from that meeting waving a paper about the legally binding nature of what they had got in some areas, despite having said prior to the vote that nothing could be changed.”
“In the area of workers rights however, there was a singular failure to secure the clause that would prevent social dumping and second class treatment of workers.”
“For that reason we are recommending to all of our members that they should reject Lisbon once again, and we are encouraging fellow trade union members to do likewise.”