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Morgan expresses disappointment at ICTU decision on Lisbon

21 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers' Rights Arthur Morgan TD today expressed disappointment at the decision of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) executive to advocate a Yes vote in the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum. Morgan said he believed the ICTU Executive was misguided on what the Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights can deliver for workers.

Deputy Morgan said:

"I am disappointed that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions following deliberations, where a significant number of trade unionists including members of the state's biggest union SIPTU abstained, has come out in favour of a yes vote. Sinn Féin had written to all members of the ICTU Executive urging them to recommend a no vote on the basis of its implications for workers' rights and public services. We had been heartened by the fact that both UNITE and the TEEU are clear in their opposition to the Treaty and have been to fore in articulating the reasons why the Lisbon Treaty is bad for workers' rights. The unions opposing Lisbon are clear about the implications of the Laval and Ruffert judgements.

"While I am sure that those within the ICTU Executive who voted to recommended a yes vote did so with the best of intentions I feel that the decision is misguided and I suspect that there was much debate at the table today as to the negative implications of this Treaty, before a decision was made.

"In my view the outcome of the ICTU Executive's deliberations stemmed from a fear, installed by the Government, Fine Gael and Labour, and EU leaders, that jobs will be lost if the Treaty is defeated. This fear combined with a mistaken belief that the Charter of Fundamental Rights has the potential to deliver the right to strike and collectively bargain undoubtedly influenced today's decision.

"The Charter of Fundamental Rights is a red herring. Firstly, if these rights are fundamental, then their admittance to EU law should not be based on acceptance or defeat of a Treaty. Secondly, even if they are accepted along with a Yes vote here and ratification by other states, the clause referring to the right to strike and collectively bargain is only applicable 'in accordance with national laws and practices'. Therefore we need trade union recognition and the right to strike to be inserted into the 1937 Constitution before workers can ever avail of these basic necessities.

"There is too much that is ambiguous in this Treaty for workers and much that is blatantly anti-worker, such as the clause to remove 'distortions' from competition - ie protective workers' rights and state funding for public services. I am disappointed by the decision today and I hope that workers will consider carefully all the issues when deciding which way to vote.

"I urge those unions, including SIPTU, who have not come to a position on Lisbon to recognise the threats which it poses to workers' rights and public services and to urge their members to vote no. Regardless of the position which individual unions and their members adopt in relation to the Lisbon Treaty Sinn Féin will continue to work with the trade union movement to protect and advance workers' rights." ENDS

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