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Begg is wrong on Europe – Charter of Rights does not guarantee right to collective bargaining

16 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers' Rights Arthur Morgan TD has criticised trade union leader David Begg for misleading workers by claiming that the Charter of Rights contained in the Lisbon Treaty will give legal status for collective bargaining and strike action in Ireland.

Morgan said that Article 28 of the Charter states that these rights are only 'in accordance with national laws and practices' and that domestic law would have to change before Irish workers could avail of these rights.

He said, "It is wrong to suggest that this Charter will give workers the right to collective bargaining and strike action. It is misleading and irresponsible. The Charter is made up of rights that are already in existence in most states and the clause on workers' rights states that workers will only have the right to collective bargaining and strike action 'in accordance with national laws and practices'. As SIPTU General President Jack O'Connor has argued, "in the light of the Laval decision, the charter now only has the validity in the context of what the Government does here."

"Sinn Fein has been arguing for some time now for domestic law to enshrine the right of workers to strike and take collective action. We will not get what we need on this issue from the Lisbon Treaty or the Charter.

"There is much for workers to worry about in this Treaty, not least the Protocol on the Internal Market and Competition, which provides the EU with a mandate to remove 'distortions' - which are likely to include important workers' rights, regulation, state aid and public funding - from the provision of services. Additionally, the fact that the European Court of Justice managed to make the Laval and Ruffert rulings after the Treaty was signed is a cause of concern for trade union policy makers both here and abroad.

"I applaud the stands of UNITE and the TEEU who are advising their members to vote No to Lisbon. I hope other trade unions take stock of the reasons why these two unions have made their decision and advise their members accordingly." ENDS

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