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Massive defeat of Port Services Directive just one small step in fight against EU privatisation agenda

18 January, 2006


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed the defeat of the EU Port Services Directive in the European Parliament and said that the result reflected 'a small yet significant fight back against an EU elite obsessed with de-regulation, privatisation and the continued undermining of workers' rights'.

The Port Services Directive would have opened up port services to de-regulation across the EU. MEPs voted massively by 532 votes to 120 (with 25 abstentions) to reject

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"I am pleased that my fellow MEPs have resisted a directive which was put before them virtually unchanged for a second time in as many years.

"Let us be under no illusions, whilst today's defeat of the Port Services Directive is a welcome development, there will be many more such battles in the time ahead against the relentless drive of the EU elites to privatise anything and everything that moves.

"Had this directive passed, it would have meant that that docking ships could bring in their own loaders, rather than use those currently available at existing ports. Not only would the proposal have threatened

the livelihoods of dock workers here in Ireland, but there were also concerns regarding health and safety. In a bid to cut costs, shipping companies may well have used unskilled, untrained, casual workers to load

and unload vessels, and to operate cranes and lifting machinery. Ports would have become an unregulated work space with the potential for serious health and safety breaches. It will also lead to a lack of investment in ports in the future.

"In spite of some trouble witnessed outside the European Parliament on Monday, I want to pay tribute to workers from right across Europe who kept this issue high on the agenda and refused to allow a renegotiation of their fundamental rights as workers. Today's decision reflects a small yet significant fight back against an EU elite obsessed with de-regulation, privatisation and the continued undermining of workers' rights.

"Other proposals coming before the Parliament in coming months seek to compound the 'bargain basement' approach to workers rights espoused by a number of member states and the European Commission. The rejection of the Port Services Directive today demonstrates to workers that they can exert pressure on politicians to reject these attacks on their rights, pay and conditions." ENDS

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