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McDonald slams FF and FG for blocking social progress clause

22 October, 2008


Sinn Fein Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has this afternoon slammed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael MEPs for voting against a Social Progress Clause (to be included in any future Treaties put to member states) following a parliamentary debate in Strasbourg on the Andersson Report. The report has been prepared by the European Parliament Employment and Social Affairs Committee in response to recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings on the Laval, Viking and Ruffert cases. Interestingly Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa abstained from the Social Progress Clause vote.

The Dublin MEP said:

“Workers across Europe have a right to equal pay for equal work. They have a right to organise, to agitate and to campaign for improved terms and conditions. They also have a right to expect that the law should recognise and vindicate these rights.

“Recent ECJ rulings which the Andersson report purports to address represent an audacious attack on these basic rights by effectively giving a green light to the wholesale exploitation of workers. These court rulings are a reflection of the stark fact that when workers rights collide with competition rules it is always workers that lose out.

“Workers and the trade union movement alike have voiced the reality that these court ruling have given legal legitimacy to what is known as ‘the race to the bottom’ of employment rights, terms and conditions throughout the EU.

“However the Andersson report is a huge disappointment to Sinn Féin. It deliberately avoids calling for the essential changes to EU treaties necessary to protect workers. The initial draft of the report identified amending the Lisbon Treaty as an option to legally address the contentious ECJ judgements however this acknowledgement was deliberately and cynically removed from the report.

“The vulnerability of workers rights was one of the key reasons why the Irish people voted against the Lisbon Treaty yet EU and Irish decision makers continue to ignore this uncomfortable fact. The Irish government has done absolutely nothing either at home or in Europe to underpin workers rights through primary law. Shame on them.

“If any new Treaty is to be accepted by the people of this state then it must ensure adequate protections for workers. The Irish government are in an excellent bargaining position to ensure that any new Treaty deal must include a binding Social Progress Clause. Going by today’s vote it appears they do not have the political will to do so.” ENDS   

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