Campaign for total opposition to ‘dodgy trade deals’

Pat Rowland
Pat Rowland

#STUC2016 UNISON’s Pat Rowland urged delegates to get involved in the campaign against ‘dodgy trade deals’ like TTIP that could stop governments bringing privatised services back in-house.

And she called on trade unionists to join the Scotland Against TTIP coalition day of action on Saturday 23 April at the Buchanan Street steps in Glasgow.

The STUC backed a UNISON motion to campaign for total opposition to TTIP (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) in the Scottish and UK Parliaments and the European Parliament.

If TTIP goes through, it will enable multi-national corporations to sue governments if their policies negatively affect profits, using what Pat called the ‘sinister’ Investor-State Dispute Settlement system (ISDS).

It will make it harder to regulate private companies providing services and could effectively prevent future governments bringing services, such as the NHS, higher education, and other public services back in house.

“It’s a threat to hard won workers’ rights such as health and safety, maternity rights, working time directive and environmental and climate change issues and many more.”

She warned that Britain’s strict controls over development of drugs through clinical trials could also be under threat due the weaker USA controls.

The campaign is crucial because currently only Scottish Labour opposes TTIP outright. The SNP believe in TTIP-Lite which would remove the NHS from the ISDS measures, but refuse to oppose the deals outright. UK Labour has not yet come out in total opposition and David Martin, the Labour MEP who sits on the EU trade committee, is opposed to ISDS but thinks a revised court system would be acceptable.

“This isn’t good enough”, said Pat, “If you’ll pardon the pun, isn’t a done deal – so our campaigning can be crucial.

“We must oppose these deals and campaign to ensure that the new Scottish Parliament, the UK Parliament and the European Parliament do so as well.”

Pat also warned that TTIP isn’t the only kid on the trade deal block. There are currently negotiations going on to conclude a ‘Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement’ , known as CETA, between the EU and Canada.

There’s the ‘Trade in Services Agreement’ known as TISA between the EU and several other countries, including the US.

CETA is a particular threat to Scottish Water and it would pose a serious obstacle to bringing privatised water services in England back into public ownership as pension funds in Canada own large percentages of some of the water companies there. These pension funds could use the ISDS provision in CETA to sue for future profits should the water utilities be brought back into public hands by a future government.

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