Delegates voting at ETUC Congress 2015. Photo Eric Luntang / ETUC
European unions back TUC call on EU referendum
Last week in Paris, the four-yearly Comgress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) adopted unanimously an emergency resolution from the TUC about the British government’s EU referendum renegotiation strategy.
TUC delegation leader Steve Turner, who is the General Council’s spokesperson on Europe, spoke about how David Cameron’s reform agenda was a threat not only to British workers, but workers everywhere:
“If David Cameron gets his way, British workers will be undercutting your workers, and how long will it be before your governments start asking why they can’t get away with lower workers’ rights too.
“Cameron’s reform agenda is a virus that would seriously harm British workers, but it could also spread and take the European social model down too.”
And he repeated the warning that was revealed in the TUC’s post-election poll, that without the rights Europe has delivered for British workers – work-life balance, health and safety generally, equality for part-time and temporary workers, equal pay, parental rights and so on – those workers are far less likely to bite to stay in. He emphasised that Cameron’s EU agenda, on top of the neoliberal approach of Europe’s political elite over the last decade, was undermining support for the EU:
“They threaten not only workers’ rights, but also their very support for British membership of the European Union itself, already undermined by the European Commission’s austerity dogma, its attacks on workers in Greece and elsewhere, and secret so-called trade deals.”
The emergency resolution welcomed what the ETUC and its national trade union affiliates have already done, pressing governments to oppose Cameron on workers’ rights.
The ETUC’s unanimous support for the TUC position included a commitment to press governments, MEPs and employers across the EU to reject attempts by the British government to water down workers’ rights either in the UK or at European level. And the ETUC committed to campaign and lobby against the UK government’s attempts to further water down Social Europe generally.