Trade unionists say No vote could bring better deal for workers
A REJECTION of the treaty would bring forward the prospect of a better deal on workers’ rights, trade unionists campaigning on the No side said yesterday.
They said a No vote would increase the prospect of a “social progress” clause being agreed to protect the rights of workers.
Watch RTE News Report on press conference here
They said this was something which was not achieved by the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights within the treaty.
Speaking at a final press conference at Unite’s offices in Dublin, Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of the union, said he was urging private and public sector workers to reject the treaty.
In a strong criticism of the attacks launched by the Yes side on the anti-treaty campaigners, Mr Kelly said it was not just the “rich and powerful” who were entitled to a voice.
He said the treaty had been formulated before the findings were known of three key European Court of Justice rulings which cover the rights of unions to take industrial action.
At a European level, work was already under way by the union movement to address the consequences of the Laval, Viking and Ruffert cases.
“[The idea of] a social progress clause is already at the top table within the European trade union movement,” he told The Irish Times . “What we’re saying is that a rejection of the treaty in Ireland moves it centre stage.”
The possibility of a victory for the No campaign was “absolutely on the table”, Mr Kelly said, adding that this was “an important week for the Republic of Ireland”.
The press conference heard a range of contributions from senior members of various unions, including Siptu, ASTI and the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU). Many appeared in a personal capacity to argue the case for a No vote.
Several contributors argued that the treaty served to promote the “neo-liberal” agenda and privatisation of services in the health and education sectors.
Eddie Conlon, a former honorary secretary of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), said the Charter of Fundamental Rights would not give workers the rights which those on the Yes side had claimed.
He said it was noteworthy that a deal on the rights of agency workers had been agreed – after such measures were opposed by the Government “all along” – just days before the referendum.
Frank Keoghan, a member of the executive committee of the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union, said the impact of the recent European Court of Justice rulings was that “market rights come first, and workers rights come second”
Take from John Downes article in Irish Times 11/06/08
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