Exemptions for NHS and other public services simply not enough, blasts TUC Congress delegate
Trade unionists declared “outright opposition” to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) yesterday.
Unite’s Gail Cartmail said the government was mistaken if it thought “it could do a deal in secret to irreversibly sell off our NHS to the United States.”
The murky deal being thrashed out by US and EU bureaucrats behind closed doors will further open Britain’s public services to foreign capitalists — and Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to exempt the NHS.
“Cameron — you could use your veto as France did with the audio sector. NHS safe in your hands? Don’t make us laugh.”
But speakers warned that the dangers of TTIP go much wider than the health service.
Academics’ union UCU delegate Simon Renton said even a public service exemption would leave higher education, where mixed provision is already in place, vulnerable — noting that for-profit colleges in the US have sued Washington over regulations designed to protect students.
The investor-state dispute settlement “would allow companies to sue our government if they don’t like its decisions,” he said.
“Corporate interest should never trump public interest. Say no to this deal. It threatens our ability to legislate for the interests of British citizens.
“It leaves our public services wide open to further privatisation. It is unthinkable that we should let a tiny group of unelected negotiators decide in secret the future shape of our education services.
“We all agreed we want rail, Royal Mail, water, gas, electricity and buses back in public ownership.
“I’d like to see G4S out of jobcentres and the probation service and prisons kept safe. If we have TTIP you can forget all that.”
And Unison’s James Anthony said exemptions for this or that service were not enough.
“Face facts — even with the NHS excluded TTIP is still bloody awful.
“It’s about deregulation and a race to the bottom on standards. Unison has fought and won on bringing services back into the public sector.
“We’ve done it with cleaning services in hospitals and care work for local councils. We cannot allow TTIP to threaten those successes.
“It’s time for the whole movement to say No to TTIP and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (between the EU and Canada). An EU with TTIP is not an EU that helps our members — and not an EU we want to be part of.”
War on Want trade union officer Jackie Simpkins said it was “great news that the trade union movement has voted unanimously to oppose TTIP outright.
“The fight to protect jobs, labour standards and public services can now proceed with real urgency in the knowledge that the voices of six million people are speaking as one.”