EPSU congress hears warning on global treaties

“It is not only our jobs that are threatened – it is our social and environmental standards and the very public services that make Europe a decent and fair place to live.”

That was the warning from James Anthony of UNISON’s NEC this morning, as he addressed the EPSU congress in Toulouse about the threat from two global trade treaties that are currently being negotiated.

“The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could, if they are agreed, prevent a national, regional or local authority ever bringing a service back into the public sector again – regardless of the wishes of the people they serve,” he explained.

Mr Anthony detailed how TISA includes a “ratchet clause” that would “explicitly prevent the re-municipalisation or renationalisation of services that have been outsourced to the private sector”, while TTIP includes an investor-to-state disputes settlement mechanism that allows “multinational enterprises to challenge government decisions which they feel ‘threaten’ their investments”.

But as he explained, such challenges would not be through “established national legal measures, using national courts, but through secret trade tribunals, with no established body of law and with no right of appeal.”

Delegates resoundingly backed a motion calling for “the inclusion of binding social and environmental standards in the drafting of bilateral and multilateral European trade agreements”.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: a UNISON briefing [PDF]

UNISON campaign: A million voices for public services

UNISON working internationally

EPSU Congress 2014 (external link opens in new window)

UNISON global on Twitter - for live updates from the congress (external link opens in new window)