Trade unions debate trade deals

(12 November 2014) {{How should the trade union movement respond to CETA, TiSA and TTIP? Will these agreements foster a socially just globalisation? These were the central questions addressed in the two day seminar organised by ver.di and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) on 10-11 November in Berlin.}} In Germany the TTIP negotiations in particular are high on the trade union agenda and there is growing concern about possible negative impacts on workers' rights, consumer protection and public services. The investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS) has been particularly contentious. In some other countries such as the UK and Austria public concerns are also growing, while elsewhere public debate is not so advanced. EPSU/PSI and other trade union organisations have an important role in working with members to raise awareness about the issues involved. This 'awareness-raising' task is complicated because of lack of transparency on what is being negotiated but also because of misleading information regarding the liberalisation objectives of these negotiations. Much is made of the potential of these agreements to provide growth and jobs, but these claims are largely unsubstantiated. [The message of the 14 governments->] who wrote to the new EC trade Commissioner arguing that trade agreements are needed to boost economic growth needs to be assessed against the current EU policies that undermine growth through austerity measures, cuts in public services and wage deflation. The meeting mapped the different research and resources that are available to support trade union and civil society cooperation around trade issues, to raise our concerns and advance our main demands as set out for example in EPSU/PSI positions, and to prevent these agreements undoing social standards and locking-in liberalisation at a time when we need more social standards and solidarity. This means working against the ratification of CETA in the European Parliament and Member States as CETA includes ISDS, promotes the further liberalisation of public services, and has a weak labour chapter as well as influencing the future development of TTIP and TiSA.