European Constitution

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2005 National Delegate Conference
20 June 2005

Conference welcomes the outcome of the French and Dutch referenda on the European Union Constitution and following the decision on Friday 17 June of EU leaders to defer ratification, Conference believes that within the UK, the government should now regard the treaty as finished business and consign its contents to history.

Conference believes that trade unions played a pivotal role in the No campaigns, highlighting precisely those areas of the treaty where this union had expressed concerns. The results in both France and the Netherlands are the result of public anger about continuing unemployment, low economic growth in the Eurozone and attacks on working hours, pay and pension rights. In addition public services were at the forefront of the argument, as a result of the liberalisation and marketisation policies adopted by the EU, in the mistaken belief these are crucial for the future direction of the EU. UNISON has maintained its opposition to the Growth and Stability Pact since its adoption, and has led opposition in the European Public Services Union to the Services Directive that is currently being debated. This union participated in the successful demonstration in Brussels on 19 March this year that showed the extent to which unions throughout Europe have a common agenda to protect public services.

Conference believes that this common agenda must be taken forward immediately as an alternative to the treaty proposals, building on areas such as employment creation and resolving the pension crisis. However, this union believes that this can only take place within a new economic framework to replace the Growth and Stability Pact, which must be a priority. In addition, public services and the protection of workers’ rights must be the centrepiece of EU policies. As part of this agenda a Framework Directive excluding public services from liberalisation and the rules of the EU internal market must be implemented. Particular attention must be paid in the development of such a document to the protection of services such as education and health. Further attacks on workers’ rights in the name of lessening the burden on business must also be resisted.

As a result of the no vote Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

1)commence dialogue with the French CGT and other European sister unions to develop our agenda for Europe, chiefly with regard to the problems of unemployment and pensions and the need for structural change to the Growth and Stability Pact;

2)intensify our campaign against the EU Services Directive and for the protection of EU public services through a comprehensive Framework Directive;

3)monitor developments with regard to workers’ rights in Europe to ensure that they continue to be protected and where necessary extended;

4)publicise the case for these changes among our membership by engaging all of our service groups, branches, regions, and self organised groups through education and publicity material, and the use of UNISON journals;

5)the lobbying of government on these matters, and work with other groups who share our critique of EU problems and the need for progressive solutions.