The STUC in Ayr heard a stark warning from UNISON’s Jane Carolan that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would be “an assault on democratic government”.
TTIP means that public services will face wholesale privatisation, over-ruling any state’s laws or policies through secretive tribunals. Worse still, any service privatised will not be able to be brought back in house.
A composite from four unions and four local TUCs called on the STUC to campaign against TTIP, support an international protest in Paris in December and to call for politicians who have an interest in the privatisation to declare an interest and abstain on voting on TTIP.
Jane Carolan told delegates: “it is a secret treaty hidden from politicians and negotiated by the EU trade commissioners in secret. These politicians who want to read it have to attend a special location where it’s available in numbered copies for reading only in that location. What was that to do with democracy, transparency and accountability?”
And she warned: “It is an assault on any society – that in any way seeks to tackle equality, provides any level of social protection or provides rights for the labour as well as capital. The intentions of this treaty are clear. It seeks to open all of Europe’s public services to privatisation by the transnationals.”
Any services provided from general taxation for public good. Contrary to past practice, unless a service has been specifically excluded it can be liberalised, and experience has taught how difficult exclusion can be in practice.
Jane warned: “And in this treaty once services have gone they are gone for good. Market liberalisation cannot be reversed because of the so called Ratchet clause, that once the service is privatised this cannot be reversed. So no rail nationalisation, no reversal of the Health and Social Care Act.”
Jane called for an international response. UNISON had already made links with major European unions to arrange an international protest and has made links with the Teamsters in the USA.
“Where corporations are acting multinationally, trade unions must act in unity and solidarity across international borders. Together we can defeat this so called treaty”, she said.