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5 June 2008 Edition

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SIPTU will not support Lisbon

ANNOUNCEMENT: SIPTU President Jack O’Connor tells the media that Ireland’s biggest union isn’t backing Lisbon

ANNOUNCEMENT: SIPTU President Jack O’Connor tells the media that Ireland’s biggest union isn’t backing Lisbon

SIPTU, the largest trade union in Ireland, has said it will not support the Lisbon Treaty unless the Irish Government commits to legislating for collective bargaining for workers.
SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor said the treaty exposed workers to free market proposition but failed to balance that with the right to collective bargaining for workers. He pointed out that the result of the Nice Treaty saw “workers’ rights undermined”.
“We supported the Nice Treaty for the best of reasons and actively campaigned for it,” O’Connor said.
“Shortly after ratification, the Government opened the borders to workers from the new accession states in the interests of business, without enhancing our employment protection legislation by one syllable. This facilitated a ‘race to the bottom’, the large-scale casualisation of jobs and an explosion of employment agencies.
“None of these regressive events can be attributed to the EU. The authorities here were to blame for all of them.
“Indeed, it is worse than that, with Ireland playing a critical role in maintaining a blocking minority to prevent the EU adopting a directive to provide minimal protection for these highly vulnerable workers.”
SIPTU has said it believes the right to organise in the workplace is one of the few ways that people can create a counterveiling force to the power of global capitalism and strengthen democracy.

CHARTER: NO GUARANTEE
Speaking following the SIPTU announcement, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Arthur Morgan TD, said:
“In the weeks leading up to this decision, Sinn Féin engaged with the SIPTU leadership, setting out in detail the reasons why the Lisbon Treaty represents a bad deal for workers.
“While I am disappointed that SIPTU has not recommended the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, its position of support is qualified.
“In our engagement with them, SIPTU representatives were receptive to a number of our arguments, including the fact that the Charter of Rights appended to the Lisbon Treaty does not as some have argued – including the Labour Party – guarantee the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike.
“The fact that this right exists only where it is ‘in accordance with national laws and practices’ means that this provision is meaningless if these rights are not protected in the Irish Constitution.
“Sinn Féin remains strongly of the view that this treaty is bad for workers and has serious implications for public services. On this basis we continue to argue that it should be rejected by trade unionists and have welcomed that fact that both Unite and the TEEU have recommended rejection of the treaty.”
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