Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Defend Workers Rights - Vote No to Lisbon

30 April, 2008


Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald and Workers Rights Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD today launched the party's 'Defend Workers Rights -- Vote No to Lisbon' national leafleting campaign, in advance of this week's May Day celebrations.

Speaking at the event Mary Lou McDonald said:

"Recent decisions by the EU have marked a clear shift away from the European Social Model. The Lisbon Treaty underpins this direction. If ratified this Treaty will deepen social exclusion throughout the Union and will fundamentally undermine workers rights.

"Successive surrendering of workers' rights by EU institutions at the behest of a weighty business lobby continues to leave millions of workers throughout Europe with decreasing employment security. Hard won terms and conditions are being stripped away and workers are pitted against each other in what is now popularly referred to as the race to the bottom.

"The Lisbon Treaty fails to address the core issue for workers in Ireland and beyond. It offers no remedy for the consistent running down of wages and social protections for workers in the European Union.

Arthur Morgan added:

"Failure by European leaders to agree a Temporary Agency Workers Directive which could protect Europe's low income low skilled workers is scandalous particularly in light of recent European Court of Justice judgments. Hard won rights which took decades of struggle to achieve are now being frittered away not for competitiveness but to appease share holders and fund increasingly hefty wage increases of those already in the top income bracket.

"The Protocol on the Internal Market and Competition Protocol within the Lisbon Treaty mandates the EU to ensure that 'competition is not distorted'. This provides the EU with a mandate to remove 'distortions' from the provision of services. Such distortions could include workers rights regulations, as well as protective markets, state 'monopolies and public funding.

"Article 16(b) of the Treaty will subject public services to new 'economic and financial conditions' including healthcare and education making such services subject to the rules of competition. It is worth noting that just yesterday (April 29th) IBEC stated at the National Forum on Europe that 'A yes vote for the Lisbon Treaty creates the potential for increased opportunities for Irish business particularly in areas subject to increasing liberalisation such as Health, Education, Transport, Energy and the Environment.'

"Article 2(2) introduces Price Stability as an aim of the European Union for the first time. Naturally we do not object to measures to curb inflation however if it were used as a tool to limit member state public funding or to restrict member state budget deficits then we believe this would play a negative national economic role. If Price Stability were to conflict with other aims such as full employment or social progress, it would be the ECJ who would determine which aim has precedence rather than national parliaments.

"This combined attack on the provision of public services and workers rights completely undermines the European Social Model.

"The Charter of Fundamental Rights offers no extension of EU law in relation to fundamental rights as stated by Minister of State for Europe Dick Roche on the 4th of March 2008. He added that the Charter 'does not extend the field of application of Union law or establish any new power or task for the Union'. The Charter does not guarantee the right to strike and states (Article 28) that workers have the right to collective bargaining and to take strike action only 'in accordance with national laws and practices' In light of the recent ECJ judgments this already weakened 'right' is further undermined.

"The Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for workers. Europe deserves better." ENDS

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