Vote Leave! The struggle continues.

Many people are ready to Vote Leave today; the EU and politicians on the Remain side have been scaremongering. Osborne, the chancellor has threatened reprisals on the British people if they votes to leave the EU; if we do, in his next budget he promises NHS cuts and tax rises. Financial markets show instability in the face of a British exit, and this is taken as proof that leaving the EU will be bad for Britain.

Remain MPs are getting ready to delay legislation taking us out of the European Union; they can hold things up in various ways. Firstly by refusing to repeal the European Community’s Act which took us in the first place, secondly by joining the European Economic Area and remaining part of the single market, thirdly refusing or delaying legislation needed to disentangle Britain from the EU. They could also require a second referendum on the terms of an exit.

The EU is sometimes talked about as a club but it is more like a debt agreement with a loan shark. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, provides the mechanism by which member states are “allowed” to leave the EU. A country should give notice of its intention to withdraw; an agreement should be made with the leaving state on terms of exit and on new relationships with the EU; the country will be excluded from the decision-making process; the exiting country can leave when a deal has been made or two years after stating its intentions: this period can be extended by the European Council; the country would be expected to apply the EU law until they have for the left.

Over the years and in line with its undemocratic structure the EU and has shown a singular disregard for the outcome of referendums throughout Europe. In 2001, Ireland was forced to have a second referendum when EU foreign ministers rejected a vote against the Nice treaty. When Dutch and French voters rejected the Euro-Constitution in 2005, an almost identical Treaty of Lisbon was put in its place; the Irish again were forced to have a second referendum. The EU policy on referendum in member states, is only have them if they can win; and if they lose, force the country to have further referendum till the EU gets its way.

Vote Leave, or Remain and Accept TTIP

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the culmination of neoliberal policies and anti-democratic processes already seen in the EU. In the trade unions there is large scale opposition to TTIP. There is an understanding that it will bring deregulation, privatisation and the infamous Investor State Disputes Settlements mechanism (ISDS). This gives multinational corporations the ability to sue sovereign governments and overrule their democratic mandates.

Furthermore if a British government in the future attempts to renationalise Health Services it will be forbidden in all but a few circumstances and that compensation must be paid. The act of a democratically elected parliament is open to challenge in the shadowy Investment Court System, set up to police the trade agreement on behalf of big business and resolve investment disputes. Such an Investor State Dispute Settlement was used to force Slovakia to overturn its rules that profit should not be made from Health Insurance. Australia was sued by a tobacco company when it tried to introduce smoking cessation legislation in the form of plain cigarette packets; Australia scrapped the ISDS.

TTIP was drawn up in secrecy by the USA and the EU; a central aim is to finalise the privatisation project, and removes from public hands such areas as the NHS in Britain, the railways in France and the German telecommunications system, as well as public service broadcasting across Europe. The EU will force TTIP on the countries of Europe and of Britain if we do not Leave.

The NHS – Not Safe in EU Hands

On Thursday, when you vote, remember that much of the NHS has been privatised, competed over, marketised, fragmented and slashed to the core. If we Vote Leave, we have a chance of reversing this, whereas staying in the EU means that even a government with a large electoral mandate to re-socialise the NHS will be acting illegally in EU terms.

TTIP brings deregulation, privatisation and allows multinationals the ability to sue sovereign states and overrule democratic mandates of elected governments. It is the culmination of neoliberal policies and anti-democratic processes already seen in the EU. Under the EU rules public services must be provided in a “transparent and non discriminatory” manner, have to be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union and opened to private businesses throughout the EU and beyond. EU competition laws must be applied. Privatisation is demanded by the EU.

A previous attempt to clean those stubborn public sector areas was the the Bolkenstein Directive of 2006. It committed countries to establish a single market in services within the EU. The commercial director of the NHS, Ken Anderson said in January 2007, ‘My personal conviction is that once you open up NHS services to competition, the ability to shut that down or call it back passes out of your hands. At some point European law will take over and prevail.’

Spending cuts in the NHS are tied into the 1997 EU Fiscal Pact, which orders fines of countries that have government deficits of more than 3% or public spending that is over 60% of the national Gross Domestic Product. Some rather complicated calculations are now in place to determine the actual levels of deficit and public spending. Never-the-less the principle remains, that EU bureaucrats and business interests can dictate to even a progressive government with a large mandate – a lesson learned in Greece.

As far back as 1975 Barbara Castle pointed out that the Common Market would bring about a market in the NHS; she had bothered to read and make an honest assessment of the treaty of Rome and regulations and decisions emanating from Brussels.

Hillsborough – A Defeat for the Establishment

Everyone watching the unravelling of the cover up of the Hillsborough tragedy cannot fail to be moved by the stoic resolve of the grieving families. The tragedy, which touched the nation, especially those who love and watch the beautiful game, was preventable and the Liverpool fans were innocent. Football supporters who were at games during the 1980s know it could have easily been them.

The tragedy exemplifies all that is good and bad within Britain, not only in the 1980s but here and now in 2016. The lies, smears, and cover up by the establishment are about protecting their own whilst attempting to lay blame on working class people who only went to watch a football match.

In stark contrast the dignified resistance of the bereaved families, their refusal to accept defeat and their determination to fight for truth and justice for 26 years illustrates all that is good in Britain.

Those officers who were serving in the South Yorkshire Police have to face criminal charges; the passage of time cannot be used as an excuse not to do so. Likewise there has to be an investigation into the involvement of the government at time. It is evident that Thatcher questioned the outcome of the 1989 Taylor interim report, saying “What do we (the government) mean by ‘welcoming the broad thrust of the report’? The broad thrust is devastating criticism of the police. Is that for us to welcome? Surely we welcome the thoroughness of the report and its recommendations – M.T.”

Undoubtedly the Eton club in the cabinet will seek to prevent an investigation; after all, the establishment will want to look after its own once more.

The steel workers are currently fighting for their livelihoods and workers at BHS are doing likewise after Green legally siphoned off £400 million. The NHS is being dismantled before our very eyes; only the junior doctor’s struggle is preventing the government from achieving its aims.

They and the bereaved Liverpool families are an example for us all. Their determination to fight is a lesson that has to be learnt by many workers and trade unions if they are to resist the destruction of their industries and communities.


The EU – pro capitalist, anti worker, anti Trade Union

Report of a speech made at a TUAEU meeting.

Labour and the TUC have been arguing that the EU protects TU rights. The truth is that the requirements of capitalism, entrenched in the EU treaties, will always trump TU rights. The forward plan for the EU ‘Europe 2020’ will make matters even worse, especially for young people.

It is worth looking at why the labour movement moved from hostility to the EU to supporting it.

Thatcher was not in the best position to sell Europe to a labour movement which did not trust her. Delors was sent for and he promised the TUC a ‘Social Europe’ and the protection of TU rights. He offered money and lavish training events and the TU establishment was generally won over.

There were dissident voices, most notably Tony Benn and Bob Crow who exposed the EU’s anti-democratic nature and its clear capitalist ideology and constitution.

But superficially ‘Social Europe’ appeared to have some substance. The problem was capital’s insatiable demand for cheap labour. Although the ‘free movement of labour’ was providing cheaper labour, existing bargaining agreements still protected wages and conditions for many.

So a few firms acted. The existing workforce was sacked and replaced by a new workforce on lower wages and conditions. In the Viking case, in Scandinavia, the existing workforce was replaced by Lithuanian workers. It was followed by a massive strike and then the case went to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) who found in favour of the employers.

Its judgement stated that the right of the firm to operate was higher than TU rights since it was one of the ‘four fundamental freedoms of the EU’. It was therefore established that the rights of capital trump TU rights in the EU. This was reinforced by similar rulings in the Laval Case, the Ruffurt case, Luxembourg v the Commission and others.

In the UNISON v Parkwood Leisure case the ECJ ruled in favour of the employers when they refused to implement a TUPE transfer right which entitled employees to a nationally negotiated annual pay rise.

It is important to note that when Eastern European countries joined the EU, one of the conditions imposed on them was the withdrawal of TU bargaining rights. That was also one of the conditions imposed on Greece as part of the ‘bailout’ imposed on them under the threat of the destruction of their economy.

This was followed by the ‘Posted Workers Directive’, which allows firms to take workers from one EU country to another and circumvent existing agreements by paying the workers at rates from their country of origin. In large infrastructure projects in Holland for example, contractors have sacked almost all their Dutch workers and replaced them with agency Portuguese workers on much lower wages. These workers also have ‘accommodation and transport’ charges deducted from their pay. The profits of the agencies are actually higher than the workers’ total wages. Yet the ‘Truck Act’ in the UK had made such practices illegal in the early 20th century, through TU campaigning.

Unemployment in the EU is high, averaging 10% and 20% for the youth. In the southern countries of the EU unemployment is higher; for example in Greece youth unemployment is 50%.

‘Europe 2020’ has been put forward as the EU solution. The plan is subtitled ‘ A European Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. Its main concept is ‘flexicurity’, changing permanent jobs into insecure, temporary and zero hour contracts. Britain’s higher employment rate is given as an example of how to do this. The message to youth from the EU is clear – if you want a job you must accept ‘flexicurity’. No wonder Cameron is in favour of remaining in the EU.

Privatisation is a key strategy of the EU. This is why they have been negotiating with the US in secret to impose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on us. It will remove current protective standards in areas such as food and the environment and lower them to US standards to help transnational corporate interests. A key aim of TTIP will be to facilitate access to the privatisation of the NHS and education.

Most of these issues are well known in the TU movement, particularly by the leadership, who, because they can’t defend themselves, say: ‘ Stay in and change it, reform it.’

So is it possible to reform the EU? Firstly that would require treaty change agreed by all 28 governments. Secondly what reforms would we want and are they compatible with EU capitalist principles? Suppose the reform said, ‘The freedom of a firm to operate in a country must respect existing bargaining agreements including posted workers and jobs will be advertised to local workers. Firms cannot sack existing employees and then use posted workers to do the work on lower wages and conditions. Nor can we accept TTIP.’ Can anyone believe EU and the corporations behind it will accept this? Most importantly, why have TU leaders, the ETUC and MEPs not campaigned to reform it before?

A vote to leave is hugely important for a progressive future in Britain and in Europe. Britain leaving will be an important step. The Trade Unions and the left must be seen to oppose the EU. In Europe the disappearance of ‘Social Europe’ and the attack on workers is all too apparent. Support for the EU by Social Democrats has resulted in the main opposition to it being taken up by right wing forces. Unless the left leads this fight, the campaign will move in the wrong direction.

Latin America has shown that internationalist cooperation can be combined with national sovereignty and democracy. ALBA is an example; Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela are successfully cooperating for mutual benefit and have even created a clever trading currency for their mutual interchange called the Sucre, which saves them all a lot in international trade.

The key question is recovering our democracy. Join Trade Unions Against the EU (TUAEU), vote leave and join the movement to rebuild Britain.

French Youth Resistance is a Fight Against the EU

The massive demonstrationFrance1s by trade unionists and young people in several French cities against their government’s ‘labour reforms’ is in fact a fight against the European Union’s strategic programme ‘Europe 2020’. This programme subtitled ‘A European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ is in fact a plan to decrease wages (both personal and social), pensions and the job security of the bulk of society.

According to the EU, employment will only increase in the EU, particularly for the youth, if it is cheaper for employers and easier for them to sack workers. They take much inspiration from the British Tories and see the growth of ‘zero hours contracts’ as a great success. The programme’s aim would for countries ‘to implement their national pathways for flexicurity, as agreed by the European council, to reduce labour market segmentation and facilitate transitions as well as facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life’.

France3The current government ‘labour reforms’ which reduce overtime payments and job security are only the beginning. It is not surprising therefore that Cameron and his government want to keep Britain in the EU. His ideology and backing from the big corporations reinforced and backed by EU programmes help the Tories and their backers, the transnational monopolies. To fight our governments in France or Britain we need to recognise the true nature of the EU!


Europe and the Free Market Mean No Steel and No Industry in Britain

Steel2 Britain’s autocratic government refuses to acknowledge the importance of core industries and infrastructure in Britain, which explains their disingenuous behaviour towards British workers and those in the steel industry in particular.

Our steel workers are highly skilled and produce some of the best steel in the world, never mind Europe. This strategic industry is, however, in foreign ownership, for them to do with as they please, while the government cries crocodile tears. Britain’s private industries were supposedly encouraged to buy British steel, but in reality they were importing a lot of EU steel made principally in Germany. At this late stage of the crisis government has belatedly suggested local councils and the public sector should buy British steel.

The Tories and previous governments have done nothing to support our steel industry and many of their actions have been positively damaging. They have been at the forefront of the EU in a fight against tariffs on importing foreign steel. The US has trade tariffs of over 200% on some of their products and China imposes its own 46% tariffs to protect vital industries. Annual Chinese steel exports to EU countries have increased from 1.3 million tons in 2009 to 7.7 million tons in 2015. High energy costs for the British steel industry, in comparison with other producers, have not helped. While Britain has cut production by 10%, Germany has only cut it by 1%.

Steel3Tata Steel already produces steel in Germany and can easily divert production, as it has no further interest in its British operation or in finding a buyer. Germany would stop any government intervention to support British steel. Italy’s attempts to fund its industry were vetoed by the EU. But nationalisation is the only answer. China protects its industries, unlike Britain, where ministers and politicians are positively treacherous when it comes to ours. British ministers have long known that Tata intended to end steel production in Britain and did nothing to find a buyer.

Stephen Kinnock, local Labour MP for Port Talbot can justifiably call for Business Secretary Sajid Javid’s resignation, but Kinnock’s own stance does not bear scrutiny given he is a leading campaigner for Britain to remain in the EU. EU policy is to concentrate different industries in larger European regions, disregarding the needs of nation states.

Steel1The government remains quiet about the continuity of the blast furnace at Port Talbot, crucial to the production process and also to the threat to the workers’ pension fund. If Gupta’s Liberty House corporation is given Tata steel what will the government offer them? Either way, the government and EU wash their hands of our strategic industry and workers are sold down the river. The EU offers nothing but low wages and unemployment.

The EU will force TTIP on Britain

More and more workers in their unions have begun to see TTIP as a creation of finance capitalism, and something to oppose. In Britain several unions have policy of opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. These include the  GMB, NUT, PCS, Unison and Unite as well as the TUC. Also many demonstrations have taken place against these trade agreements and the multinational corporations and transnational bodies which will benefit. These demonstrators have included Occupy and Anonymous activists and organisations such as Friends of the Earth and War on Want. In both Europe and North America workers are against TTIP and  it should now be our internationalist duty to oppose it.

TTIP is a trade agreement concocted in secret between the EU and the USA, similar to an agreement with Canada called CETA. Its aim is to fix the policy of privatisation in all countries for all time; it takes the warped anti-democratic doctrine of shared sovereignty to its conclusion. The treaty takes power away from democratically elected governments, and it is those governments along with politicians, financiers and assorted billionaires who have approved it. Any legislation is subject to scrutiny by a transtlantic authority, which can stop that which is deemed to hurt the interests of business.

The Trade Agreement sets up secret courts under the investor – state disputes mechanism, that allows huge corporations to sue nation states. A main aim of TTIP is to create new markets by opening up public services including health and education, and all government procurement. It will also do away with regulations that protect workers’ rights, safety rules, social and environmental standards, consumer protection, privacy laws and even the banking safeguards introduced after the financial crisis of 2008.

We have the chance to torpedo these undemocratic agreements that will cause so much damage, by comprehensively opposing the EU and campaigning for a No vote in the forthcoming referendum on the 23 June.

For more information view the following:

The Workers’ Forum – use TTIP link on our cloud (right of page)

Trade Unionists Against the EU


Stop TTIP 

War on Want

Labour Party migrates to Brussels.

It feels as though the Labour Party has left the political stage. Over the last few days since the EU referendum announcement, the battle about winning the next general election has begun with the Conservatives so far organising around Vote Leave and UKIP and an array of anti EU campaigners including Labour Leave, organising around Grassroots Out. Independent workers’ organisation against the EU are also steaming ahead.

Compared to all this the Parliamentary Labour Party’s pro EU position and the Labour Party General Secretary’s attempt to close down any debate on the EU within the Party as a whole, looks as though that party is not just consigned to a defeat in the referendum, but the next general election too. Labour is migrating to Brussels where TTIP and the special relationship with the US can be nurtured.

The Labour Party along with elements of the posh ‘left’ like Left Unity, and the TUC hierarchy are arguing that the EU can be reformed from within and we will all lose our holiday entitlement and jobs if we leave. Every time they do so they retreat further and further from the interests of workers and the nation.

It is almost as if a second bourgeois revolution is taking place. Those representatives of the domestic bourgeoisie in the Tory Party, miffed at their lack of influence and control under the terms of the EU and eager to penetrate more overseas markets outside the continent, want to take back control of the British Parliament and are gerrymandering seats to make sure a Labour victory is far less likely in the future. UKIP would like to win the next general election also so they can run Britain with a combination  of Hyacinth Bouquet, Alf Garnett, Basil Fawlty and Tommy Cooper might.

Workers need to show some leadership and sense on this issue, get out of the EU and run Britain in our interests for a change and with a renewed sense of internationalism.

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Ukrainian ambassador to Germany whitewashes Bandera's crimes & ignores his collaboration with the Nazis. In Britain much of the media & most parliamentary politicians also revise history to their ends. Many who stigmatised Corbyn remain silent on Nazis in Ukraine.

Communist Party ☭@CPBritain

WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN - Ukrainian ambassador to Germany speaks on the pro-Nazi butcher Bandera.

US is a country where violence in is endemic. It has unleashed wars against countries throughout the world, its culture glorifies killing, whether by serial killers, police or security operatives. Children learn games where the aim is to kill or maim.

Keir Starmer has worked out that if Labour goes on about getting back in the EU, single market or customs union, Labour will lose badly; he'll be out of a job. Yet there are still those in Labour whose first loyalty is to Brussels.

With friends like these you get whole package: Brussels bureaucracy, "shared" i.e. ever decreasing sovereignty, NATO aggressive involvement, Banderist Nazi-Fascism which is whitewashed, history of genocide rewritten, "ethnic cleansing" of Russo-phone Ukrainians & unwinnable war.

Ursula von der Leyen@vonderleyen

Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective.

We want them to live with us the European dream.

A Series of Seminars: Economic Policy and the Role of Trade Unions is being run by the @GFTU1. An excellent set of informative discussion groups.

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