UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has been leading the international trade union response to the threats posed by trade and investment agreements this week.
In his role as President of Public Services International (PSI), the international public service union body, he has been in the United States, chairing an important global meeting of public service union leaders from around the world.
They’ve been discussing their coordinated response to the threats posed to workers, public services and democracy by the rise of numerous international trade agreements including the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
At the meeting hosted by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) at their headquarters in Washington DC, Mr Prentis also led a lobby of senior members of both the House of Representatives and Congress.
UNISON has been at the forefront of the fight against TTIP and other trade agreements which threaten to irreversibly privatise our public services including the NHS.
Undeterred by sharp increases in inequality across the globe, nor the devastation created by reckless deregulation of the financial markets, multinational corporations have been urging governments that further radical and permanent liberalisation is now required through a web of binding trade and investment agreements.
No longer about traditional trade issues, the new wave of agreements deepens corporate power by limiting the role of democratic governments to regulate in the public interest and opens up government services to private profit.
These agreements include the Canada-EU Agreement (CETA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).
Dave Prentis said: “If these deals go ahead, our NHS and our public services will be opened up to private profit. And it removes the rights of government’s to have any control.
“So a future government that wanted to ensure our public services remained in the public sector would be prevented from doing so.”
Participants at the Washington event discussed the critical importance public services play in advancing economic development and shared prosperity.
They also discussed the historical evolution of international trade policy and agreements as they relate to public services and economic development, and the role of multinational corporations in pushing ahead an international trade agenda that seeks to restrict democracy and privatise public services at the expense of taxpayers and government accountability and transparency.