Global teacher unions oppose neo-liberal trade & investment agreements
At this week’s Education International (EI) World Congress in Canada, education unions around the globe voted to oppose the new wave of trade and investment agreements that are being negotiated – often in secret – by our governments. Representing nearly 32 million teachers and education workers, EI is the largest global union federation and therefore the vote represents an important step in the campaign against the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-Canada deal known as CETA, the plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and TPP, which covers countries around the Pacific, from Australia to the USA.
Challenging privatisation and commercialisation of education has been one of the main themes of the 7th EI Congress in Ottawa. Congress recognised that trade and investment agreements are one of the global drivers of this privatisation, in particular through the liberalisation of trade in services. Of particular concern was the potential for ISDS to lock countries in to neo-liberal education policies, such as voucher systems and student fees.
The UK’s University and College Union (UCU) – on behalf of a diverse coalition of unions – moved the resolution and it was formally seconded by the German education union, the GEW. Other representatives from the UK (NASUWT and NUT), the United States (American Federation of Teachers), Ireland (Irish Federation of University Teachers) and Argentina (CONADU) also spoke in favour of the resolution, which recognised:
“that these agreements seek to go far beyond traditional tariff reductions by imposing constraints on what governments can do behind their national borders, including the promotion of regulatory coherence and convergence across countries irrespective of national priorities.”
David Boys, Deputy General Secretary of Public Service International (PSI) told the conference that his organisation had also mobilised its members against these ‘so-called’ trade deals, saying:
“These deals are a direct attack on democracy and will further extend corporatisation over public services.”
Earlier this month, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) conference also backed an anti-TTIP/CETA/TiSA resolution.