McCluskey Tells Malmström “Stop misleading the British public over trade deal”

Unite's Len McCluskey issues warning on TTIP

Unite’s Len McCluskey issues warning on TTIP

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has written to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to warn her that the Commission is misleading the British public over the EU-US trade deal called TTIP.

Unite is campaigning to ensure David Cameron uses his veto in Europe to get the NHS out of the trade deal. But the union believes that Commission officials have been giving “off-the record briefings” to the UK media, giving the impression that the NHS is exempt from TTIP, when it is clearly not.

 Unite’s legal advice is clear that the NHS is included in the trade deal and in September the UK government’s minister for trade, Lord Livingston confirmed at a press conference that the NHS was part of the deal (Lord Livingston gave evidence to the BIS select committee today on TTIP).

 Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Tens of thousands of people from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been calling on David Cameron to use his veto in Europe to remove the NHS from TTIP. However this has not actually happened.

“I don’t know whether the Commission is trying to mislead the British public on this issue, but that certainly seems to be what is happening.

 “My legal advice is clear, the NHS is included within the material scope of TTIP.

“Every effort must be made to ensure that spokespeople for the European Commission are clear, honest and straightforward about this matter.”

The trade deal is being negotiated behind closed doors, is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and threatens to make the ongoing privatisation of the NHS irreversible by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers.

 TTIP could grant American multinationals, or any firm with American investors, the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership.

An exclusive poll conducted by Survation for Unite, in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency Witney and health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s South West Surrey constituency, revealed massive opposition to the EU-US trade deal. A significant majority of voters in Witney and South West Surrey, 82 per cent and 80 per cent respectively, oppose the inclusion of the NHS.

An earlier extensive telephone poll, carried out by Survation in August 2014, questioned over 2,600 voters across 13 marginal Conservative-held seats. Respondents were asked if the NHS should be excluded from the deal and if David Cameron should use Britain’s veto. Across all constituencies, of those that stated a view – 68 per cent said they opposed the inclusion of the NHS as part of the deal. Opposition was highest from those planning on voting for Labour or UKIP, 78 per cent and 77 per cent respectively. Just 23 per cent of Conservative voters supported inclusion.

 Unite also polled voters in Stockton South and Rochester & Strood in both cases voter opposed the NHS in TTIP and expected Cameron to be prepared to use his veto.

 Text of Len McCluskey’s letter to Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

“I have recently read reports in the British press stating that the European Commission ‘insists the NHS would be exempt’ from TTIP. This is clearly not the case.

 I don’t know whether the Commission is trying to mislead the British public on this issue but that certainly seems to be what is happening.

My legal advice is clear that the NHS is included within the material scope of TTIP. Furthermore, your Chief Negotiator’s letter of 8 July 2014 to Rt Hon John Healey MP confirmed that the NHS will be subject to substantial aspects of investment protection.

 In other words, US investors in the private companies now taking over NHS services will get new rights to sue the Government, as we have been saying. Of course, this would even remain the case if ISDS was removed from TTIP, as such a case could still be taken via the US Government using a State-State procedure.

 I also understand that since Mr Garcia Bercero’s letter was sent, you have stated that the UK Government can, if it wishes, comprehensively remove the NHS from all aspects of TTIP. Thousands of people from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been calling on David Cameron to remove the NHS from TTIP for some months now. However, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that this has actually happened. It is certainly clear that it did not happen in the text of the Canadian deal, CETA.

 So, if there is new information and the NHS is no longer going to be subject to TTIP, please let me know.  If not, can you please clarify this matter on the record?

 Furthermore, I would ask you to make every effort to ensure that spokespeople for the European Commission are clear, honest and straightforward about this matter when briefing the media in future.

 Yours

 Len McCluskey”

This entry was posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights. Bookmark the permalink.

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