Education and Irish Unions Oppose Trade Deals

stop-ttip-generic-fbOpposition to the new generation of trade deals is growing with opposition at the Education International Congress where the NASUWT (from the UK) alongside IFUT, AFT and Argentina FE Trade union spoke in support of a UCU (UK) resolution opposing TTIP, CETA & TiSA. This was passed unanimously a and is now EI policy an organisation representing 32 million education workers across the world.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has adopted a resolution of outright opposition to TTIP (not just a halt to negotiations), and also to CETA and TiSA. Another national trade union confederation has therefore come out 100% against TTIP, which is important in light of the Europe-wide position to be taken at the ETUC Congress in Paris this September.

The final text of the ICTU resolution, as amended, is below:

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
Conference is extremely concerned about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Free Trade Treaty, a wide-ranging trade deal giving unprecedented power and influence to transnational corporations that would become the benchmark for all future trade agreements, currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA and recognises the threat posed. While there may be economic benefits in reducing trade tariffs and reviewing regulation for certain industrial sectors, Conference believes that the primary purpose of TTIP is to extend corporate investor rights.

Despite assurances offered by the EU Commission that TTIP will not restrict the right of governments to regulate, the fact is that TTIP will severely restrict the ability of governments to regulate. It does this in two ways, firstly TTIP creates a right for companies to launch a suit for financial compensation if a government introduces a rule or regulation and that rule or regulation has a negative impact on the company’s profit, or expected profit. The inclusion of this provision in TTIP will achieve exactly the same outcome as an explicit restriction because of the chilling effect that will be created by the threat of financial consequences, often amounting to billions that will ensue. The result is that elected governments will be unable to afford to regulate.

Closely linked to this threat is the widespread concern that the company will be enabled to make their claim against the state in private arbitration – the investor state dispute settlement or ISDS. The idea of secret private courts is unacceptable and in all likelihood unconstitutional. But simply amending TTIP to require companies to launch their claim for compensation in ordinary courts is not the solution. Companies should not be able to launch claims for compensation for indirect expropriation at all, not in private ISDS and not in a court of law. There is no justification for providing companies with such excessive enhanced protection. Citizens and workers do not have the benefit of similar protections.
Conference remains unconvinced by official claims of job creation arising out of TTIP, and considers that the dangers to public services, workers’ rights and environmental standards outweigh any potential benefits. Conference remains unconvinced about the likelihood of a binding labour rights chapter based on ILO Core Conventions.
Conference has similar concerns over current negotiations for the proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

Conference believes that on the current path we will be presented with a fait accompli in the form of an inadequate, unacceptable agreement that we have had no chance of influencing or amending and where time will make it difficult to mobilise opposition.

Conference therefore resolves that the trade union movement should now call for the TTIP negotiations to be halted and adopt a clear position of outright opposition to TTIP, and other trade agreements currently being negotiated. Conference calls on the trade union movement to make it clear that workers will never accept any trade agreement that doesn’t promote decent jobs and growth and safeguard labour, consumer, environmental and health and safety standards. Conference calls for the continuation of lobbying, campaigning and negotiating on these matters, in alliance with the ETUC and AFLCIO and other civil society organisations with similar views.

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