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Statement from TEEU on Lisbon Treaty Referendum
Press Conference Wednesday September 2nd 2009.
Verification: Frank Keoghan 087-2308330
The TEEU reiterates its opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, a position unanimously endorsed by our last delegate conference. Our opposition to the first referendum was clearly based on opposition to the policy of the ECJ in interpreting the Treaties and in particular the Posting of Workers Directive in a manner detrimental to the long-term interests of our members .
Since the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish electorate last June, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called for a Social Protocol to address this situation. The TEEU supported this position and furthermore, sought to have it attached to the Lisbon Treaty when it became obvious that we were to vote again. We are aware that John Monks, General Secretary of the ETUC met Mr Barroso in May of this year and that there was no progress in this regard. We can only conclude in these circumstances that the incremental diminution of worker’s rights in successive judgements of the ECJ has the support of the Commission. This is totally unacceptable.
It was also clear to the government following the Millward Brown survey commissioned by them post – referendum that this was a major issue contributing to the Treaty’s rejection. Nevertheless, the best they and the June Summit of EU leaders could offer is ‘special recognition’ of the issue – implying that what has been happening has their approval.
Unfortunately, the Lisbon Treaty will ensure that the ‘interest of the market’ will always have precedence over the rights of workers, as it grants the Charter of Fundamental Rights the same legal standing as the Treaty and a number of judgements of the ECJ enshrining the principle of market primacy are included in the explanations which must be taken into account by the Courts when ruling in such cases.
Another significant development since the last referendum is the Luxembourg Ruling. Commenting on the ruling, John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, stated: This is another hugely problematic judgement by the ECJ, asserting the primacy of the economic freedoms over fundamental rights and respect for national labour law and collective agreements. It turns the Posting Directive from an instrument that was intended to protect workers, companies and labour markets against unfair competition on wages and working conditions into an aggressive internal market tool. This is unacceptable and must be repaired as soon as possible by the European legislators, notably by a revision of the Posting Directive to clarify and safeguard its original meaning. In addition, the ETUC urges the European institutions to adopt a Social Progress protocol . . ..
The Labour Court also echoed our concerns earlier this year when it stated, in a case brought by employers in an attempt to break a Registered Employment Agreement (REA) that; .it seems reasonably if not absolutely clear to the Court that in the absence of a Registered Employment Agreement contractors from other Member States could exercise their freedom to provide services in this jurisdiction under the EC Treaty at the same rates and conditions of employment as apply in their country of origin. Depending on the country of origin this could seriously undermine the competitive position of Irish contractors or more likely, the wages of their employees! This is a clear and explicit recognition by the Court that a race to the bottom based particularly on the Laval and Rueffert Judgements is now a pending possibility especially as the employers are likely to pursue this case through the civil courts, with devastating results for our members if they are successful.
The only way to stop this process it is to reject Lisbon yet again and ensure that in any renegotiation, a social protocol is attached and that the Posting of Workers Directive and Charter of Fundamental rights are amended to give worker’s rights primacy over the interests of the market. Then, the TEEU will reconsider its position.
Frank Keoghan, General President.
Eamon Devoy, General Secretary Designate.