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Saturday 13th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Closed-doors deal is a ‘threat to workers’ rights’

GLOBAL transport unions launched a new campaign against the shadowy Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) yesterday.

The International Transport Federation (ITF) launched its campaign against the free-trade pact, which unions and other campaigners say will undermine democracy, workers’ rights and public ownership.

The federation presented a report it commissioned from the German social-democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation on the agreement’s effect on transport workers.

The federation aims to use the present break in negotiations to raise public awareness of the “unrepresentative and undemocratic deal.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin warned: “Tisa would supercharge the most powerful companies in the transport industry, giving them preferential treatment.

“It creates serious barriers for any state wanting to invest in, manage and operate its national infrastructure or, crucially, to defend decent work and decent terms and conditions across transport.

“What’s missing from this equation is any value at all for workers and citizens.”

Tisa has been negotiated in secret by the so-called Really Good Friends (RGF) club of 22 nations and the EU. The RGF is supported by a group of global corporations dubbed “Team Tisa.”

They include technology giants Microsoft, IBM and Google, global logistics and transport operators DHL, Fedex and UPS and financiers Citigroup and AIG.

Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks revealed last year that while Tisa will not have a formal investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, it still contains loopholes allowing foreign companies to sue governments for loss of profits due to their health and safety and other regulations.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton pointed out: “Despite the wall of secrecy constructed around the Tisa talks, it’s well known that the deal represents a threat to hard-won workers’ rights and conditions.

“What isn’t so well known is the way it directly threatens transport workers’ jobs. We aim to put that right.”

Tisa follows in the footsteps of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (Gats) of the 1990s, which drew strong opposition from trade unions.

Gats was also criticised because its disputes panel was able to override member states’ national legislation in closed hearings.

While Gats members could opt out of privatising public utilities and other monopolies, they came under pressure to do so from transnational corporations.

  • Read the report by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation at