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SIPTU must make rejection of EU Services Directive key priority in talks with government

13 January, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today urged trade union representatives to prioritise the rejection of the EU Services Directive in future talks with the government on social partnership.

Ms McDonald made her comments after the Irish Government invited trade union representatives to enter into new negotiations on employment standards and the protection of workers' rights.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"There has been a gradual EU wide drive to erode the conditions in which workers are employed. All across Europe Governments and industry are keen to pit workers against each other ensuring a "race to the bottom" with regard to pay and conditions.

"The controversial EU Services Directive will compound the 'bargain basement approach' to workers' rights in the EU. The directive in its present form would allow private companies to undercut public service providers by employing people on the salaries of their country of origin and under the employment conditions of their country of origin. This could lead to massive redundancies of public sector workers across Ireland, and the creation of a new underclass of migrant workers, whose rights would not be protected by employment law in Ireland.

"It is on this basis that I would call upon SIPTU to prioritise the issue of the EU Services Directive in any future talks with the Government in a new round of Social Partnership discussions.

"The Taoiseach has recently stated that the protection of workers' rights is a key priority for the government and it is imperative that Bertie Ahern keeps to this promise. In the current 'privatise any thing that moves' climate, the Government must reject the directive if and when it comes before them for ratification.

"Sinn Féin believes that the government, European Commission and Council need to get the message loud and clear that our public services are not for sale or negotiation." ENDS

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