Workers of all lands, unite!
Blind to eU reality JOhN FOsTER Forces set on subverting the Brexit vote have targeted the labour movement with a document from former TUC general secretary Lord Monks and others putting the case for Britain remaining in the Single Market and, if possible, in the EU itself. It does so mainly by attacking claims by the Left that the EU is incompatible with public sector intervention: see https://tinyurl.com/y865gt3k It makes its case by ignoring key elements of the EU’s constitutional and legal structures and providing partial truths on the rest. Its omissions provide important pointers to what its authors see as the key weaknesses in their own argument.
Millions are on the move against racism his weekend will see thousands on the march in Britain – from all faiths and none, people divided over many issues, from economic policy to Brexit – but united in their opposition to racism. we live in interesting and contradictory times. UkiP, which succeeded for a while in channelling racist ideas, is collapsing into a parody of itself. A string of Labour local election victories reveals how the widespread working class opposition to eU membership is being decoupled from racism. Largely this is due to Jeremy Corbyn's swift pledge to respect the referendum result – strengthened by Labour’s commitment to strengthen workers' rights and end austerity. Open opposition to Labour’s renewal by Labour’s Blairite right wing was driven underground but has re-emerged tricked out as a big business-sponsored campaign to remain in
the eU single market. There is a growing realisation that austerity policies are driven as much by eU treaties that underpin the single Market as by Tory dogma. Peoplenow recognise the eU as a neo-liberal capitalist club which combines free movement within with a ring of steel that excludes people from Africa and Asia. This accounts for the widespread opposition to eU membership by people in Britain who cannot unite their families from Commonwealth countries no matter how long they have lived here. european Union plans to create a european super-state army tie in with new military deployments in eastern europe; the eU supports the semi-fascist regime in Ukraine while eU foreign policy is increasingly mobilised to back Us attacks on progressive Latin American states like Venezuela. it is good news that UkiP and other such
right and far-right movements are on the back foot. But unlike much of europe we have a left Labour leadership that shares the views and aspirations of millions of working people. we have a popular mandate to leave the eU and end austerity. where fascism and petty nationalism is on the rise it is a reaction to the failed neo-liberal consensus that has foisted wage cuts, poverty and austerity on us. Trade deals like TCeP and CeTA are part of this right-wing consensus and where social democratic parties have fallen in with the banks and big business they have been deserted by millions of working class voters. in Portugal, where the socialist Party government, with conditional support from the left and the Communist Party, has challenged eU diktat, the picture is diﬀerent. CONTINUED OVERLEAF
shift the balance towards the collective CAROLYN JONEs LABOUr’s MAnifesTO for the June 2017 election, For the Many not the Few, contained a number of ideas put forward in the institute of employment rights’ Manifesto for Labour law: towards a comprehensive revision of workers’ rights. since then the institute’s authors have been working on how the Labour Party pledges might be developed into a coherent, workable and electorally attractive set of proposals for a new labour law. The time for such a change is long overdue. The plight of Britain’s 31 million workers is well known: falling real wages, gross inequalities of income between the few and the many and between men and women, insecure employment, precarious hours and income, low quality work, exclusion from decision-making about their working lives, too many hours or too few, lack of dignity and respect, lack of
facilities for the disabled and those caring for children, lack of opportunity for education and training, the list is endless. if things are to improve, the current employment laws contributing to this disastrous situation need to be radically changed. so what do we want? The ier’s plan has three main strands first, stronger institutions to represent and assist workers. That means a Ministry of Labour with a seat at the Cabinet table, providing a voice at the heart of government not just for employers and lobbyists as now but for the Uk’s 31 million workers. The Ministry would oversee other labour market institutions, including new Labour Courts and a Labour inspectorate, empowered to protect and promote worker’s rights. second, we propose to shift the balance away from individual rights and back to rights negotiated collectively by trade unions. such negotiations will take place at national rather
than enterprise level and set terms and conditions across whole sectors of the economy. so whether you’re a nurse or a care worker, a teacher or a shop worker you will know what your terms and conditions are and be able to enforce them. Third, we aim to clarify and simplify the nature of the employment relationship and the status of those employed. This will end the worst abuses of the gig economy, the growth in so-called self-employment and control the ‘ﬂexible market’ that allows employers to hire and ﬁre at will. some may see the above as little more than a wish list. But as ier enters its 30th anniversary year, we believe we are closer now than we have ever been to seeing our vision of a better world come true. CArOLyn JOnes is direCTOr Of The insTiTUTe fOr eMPLOyMenT righTs
OmIssIONs 1 Public Procurement and contracts It makes no mention of EU requirements for compulsory competitive tendering and the limitations imposed on requirements to pay a living as against a minimum wage, to require union recognition or collective bargaining or on the freedom to exclude companies with record of blacklisting. None of this is legally possible within the EU’s Single Market. Nor is there mention of legal obstacles to introducing requirements for local/regional sourcing of materials and services. Such intervention represents a central plank of Labour industrial strategy and also of its 2017 election programme. This represents a very major weakness in the document. 2 Anti-TU judgements of EU Court of Justice No mention is made of the anti-TU judgements of the EU Court. The Viking and Laval judgements are ignored. These ban trade unions from using collective action to secure locally bargained rates for ‘posted workers’ employed by firms from elsewhere in the EU. Equally the Ruffert and Luxemburg judgements prevent local and national governments requiring this through their own legislation. Nor does it mention the recent Holship judgement by the EFTA court, using EU law, that has rendered the Norwegian dock labour scheme illegal because it restricted the ability of firms from outside Norway to pick their own workforces on the dockside. Instead the pamphlet’s one comment on posted workers, where it knows it is on weak ground, is to say that President Macron of France is proposing a change in EU law. It fails to stress that EU law currently remains as it was. EU and EFTA courts make anti-TU judgements because they work within the terms of the EU Treaty that prioritises the right of establishment and the free movement of capital. This will continue. 3 EU policy to remove collective bargaining in favour of individual and plant bargaining Under the terms of the EU2020 programme all EU member states have been required to move towards employment policies that are based upon ‘flexicurity’, individual contracts that are easily terminated but provide a safety net of some social security provision – as long as this provision is not sufficiently high to provide an incentive to staying out of the labour market. Member states have to report annually on progress in implement these reforms (as well as lengthening working lives by increasing the pension age). The European TUC has repeatedly criticised these measures as driving down wages and conditions as have leading labour lawyers such as Hendy and Ewing. No mention is made of this. Although this programme only applies to EU member states (as against Single Market members), it will – through competitive pressure – also impact on single market members of EFTA. The EU’s policy to erode collective bargaining is set out in the EU Commission paper Labour Market Developments in Europe 2012. https://tinyurl.com/oxw3ugl 4 Freedom of movement of capital and freedom of establishment There is no mention of restrictions on any return to the type of regional policy applied in Britain up to the 1970s and of particular benefit to Scotland. There can be no direction of capital in face of ‘freedom of establishment’. Glaring statistical error On p 6 the document quotes an ‘official government estimate’ (without source) that a Hard Brexit would see GDP reduced by 7.5 per cent each year - i.e. by 2030 Britain’s GDP would be reduced to one quarter of its current size (a mistake worthy of Boris Johnson). The total value of British exports to any country is currently equivalent to about 25 per cent of GDP and manufacturing contributes only 10 per cent of British GDP. CONTINUED overleaf
CONTINUED FROm PAGE ONE
s Bob Cooney (1907-1984) was a prominent Aberdeen communist and antifascist who joined the international Brigades in the spanish Civil war. Proud Journey is his memoir of those turbulent times. it takes us from street clashes with Blackshirts to the battleﬁelds of spain introduction by Meirian Jump £5 (+£2 p&p),
s Alexandra kollontai (1872 –1952) was an active socialist and ﬁghter for women’s rights in russia from 1899. she joined the Bolsheviks in 1915. The only woman member of the Bolshevik central committee, she also served as Commissar of welfare and head of the women’s section of the Bolshevik Party. £2.50 (+£1.50 p&p)
s The Empire and Ukraine by Andrew Murray sets the Ukraine crisis in its global and local context, and draws the lessons needed for the anti-war movement as great power conﬂict returns to europe and threatens a new cold war or worse. Murray examines the fascist forces activated in Ukraine and explores the essential links between the crises of contemporary capitalism and war. £11.95 (+£1.50 p&p)
EU myths CONTINUED from Page 1 mIsLEADING ARGUmENTs 1 Public ownership and private ownership The section on Rails Privatisation does not give full details of the Fourth Rail Package and requirements for separation of the ownership of the track from the operation of services and other requirements for the separation of goods and passenger traffic and high speed services from local services. All are designed to heighten competition – with the kind of cost-cutting and profiteering consequences that have already had disastrous consequences in Britain (privatised by John Major under the terms of the first EU rails directive). It claims that state-owned companies still operate in Germany and France, which is correct, but does not explain that significant parts of the network are now run by the private sector and that rail unions in these countries have strenuously opposed this process. Nor does it give any detailed and costed analysis of the impact of the requirements for the opening of goods, express and now all passenger services to competition on the viability of public operators. The same applies to its comments on postal services and telecommunications. It is unfortunate that trade union and Labour representatives should give credence to this very misleading information that prejudices the livelihoods of fellow trade unionists. 2 state aid The pamphlet argues that state aid is permissible. This is true but it is very strictly limited. It is permissible in special circumstances and to avoid systemic damage, as during the banking crisis. In these cases, however, strict EU rules apply to the phasing out of the aid and reprivatisation. In Britain the RBS has been required under EU rules to reduce its size and to cut massive numbers of branches. Most trade unionists who have experienced workplace closure will remember the futile attempts to secure EU aid or any government assistance requiring state aid. The MEPs signing this document should remember
this themselves. Equally EU accounting definitions of what is public and what is private, have limited government intervention as with the Scottish Futures Trust in 2015-16. These prohibitions would all apply under the Single Market or within the EU Customs Union. 3 Austerity The pamphlet argues that mandatory EU sanctions against government deficits ‘only’ applies to Eurozone countries. This is misleading on three counts. First, it minimises the drastic consequences for these Eurozone countries in terms of mass unemployment and, for those countries within EU programme, mass privatisation and reductions in all social services and pensions. It represented an assault on working people without precedent since 1945 – and by depressing wages and conditions also had a wide impact outside the Eurozone. Second, it makes no mention at all of the 2012 Fiscal Compact which was negotiated with ALL EU countries except Britain and the Czech republic. This reduced the deficit limit on current deficits to 0.5 per cent (with an obligation to reduce debt over 60 per cent GDP over a strict timetable). This was mandatory. It was required to be written into national law. It is currently being written into EU Treaty Law. Third, the Monks document makes no mention that all EU countries, including Britain, were required to report annually on their progress towards deficit reduction. There were no financial penalties for non-Eurozone countries but non-compliance was publicly reported and would consequently affect credit ratings and a country’s ability to borrow. Britain’s current programme is at https://tinyurl.com/y9pof653
with social democratic and labour parties down to single ﬁgures in some countries and sliding into electoral decline, such as in france, greece, germany and italy, Labour under Corbyn stands out as a striking success. But other eU states see the rise of racist and fascist parties and the surrender to racism by mainstream centre right and centre left, for example, in italy where mass mobilisation against racism and fascism is led by the left and the communists. in france the fn commands a big working class vote; in Poland, a giant movement for a white europe is called ‘a beautiful sight by ministers’; in hungary, the prime minister plays with anti- semitic rhetoric and smears people s Workers of all land, unite! who are not ‘Christian’; while in Austria fascists sets out what should be a labour movement have been brought into government. policy on migration, labour and refugees. The Communists take a sober, rational approach issues of immigration, asylum and migrant that sees racism in our communities or carried labour have been kept at the centre of the out by the state as a threat to the whole political debate by reactionary elements in the working class. racism takes lives. Black Lives media, the main political parties and the state. This has been particularly the case in the run-up Matter carries out valuable work in identifying the actions of the police. And grenfell shows to, and since, the referendum decision of the British people to exit the european Union (eU). that if you are poor and non-white the state and This continual barrage has fostered perceptions local government often don’t care. The reality is that racists are on the march – often widespread – that Britain is being across europe and beyond, and this should warn ‘swamped’ by migrant ethnic groups and nationalities, that immigrants and asylum-seekers us oﬀ liberal interpretations of the eU vote which conﬂate support for Brexit with bedrock are ‘bogus’ and receive privileged access to racism. public and welfare services. it has also helped The number of hate crimes recorded in the growth of fascist and right-wing xenophobic 2016/17 was the largest annual increase, but organisations, although these remain small and such crimes were on the increase well before largely ignored by working class people. the eU decision. Both xenophobic attitudes, and the calls for Communists and fellow campaigners in the ‘no borders', help conceal the role played by the Lexit (Left exit) movement argued that the socapitalist state and by capital itself, which is the called ‘free movement of labour’ is tied up with direct cause of war and most of the economic a bosses' strategy to undermine collective and social problems aﬄicting the working class across the world – problems that lie at the heart bargaining and depress wage rates. Buttressed by european Court of Justice of mass migration. £2 rulings, it allows British-based capital and www.communist-party.org.uk/shop/ unscrupulous employers to pay migrant workers below the rate for the job while lowering wages across the board. ‘free movement’ is another word for forced migration and is denuding european countries of their work force. rather than echo big business and the banks in their self-serving support for the eU single market, the TUC should be mobilising for a comprehensive raft of anti-austerity measures, including public ownership, wealth taxes, state support and investment and sectoral planning.
s The EU, Brexit and class politics Which way for the labour movement? by Robert Griﬃths £2 www.communist-party.org.uk/shop/
4 EU trade treaties The Monks document minimises the dangers posed by EU trade treaties – eg CETA – in terms of compensation to private companies for forgone prospective profits (quite different from compensation for privatisation with which the document seeks to confuse the argument). These treaties will apply with full force if Britain remains a member of the EU custom union – as will the EU’s ‘Fair Trade Agreements’ with developing countries that include exploitative provisions on the opening of public services to competition and the opening of land and water resources to private sale. WTO provisions do not involve international commercial courts (it operates via negotiations between governments) and offers much more opportunity for progressive Does this affect members of the Single policies. China has been able to lead a strong Market ? Yes. Because the general alliance of developing countries in the WTO in deflationary trend across the EU will affect favour of technology transfer agreements and estimations of interest rate payments and credit other arrangements that assist state-led ratings for other countries. As the European economic development. H TUC said in 2012, the policy was effectively that of the gold standard era of making wage JOhn fOsTer is inTernATiOnAL seCreTAry earners pay for crisis by lowering wages. Of The COMMUnisT PArTy
Jeremy Corbyn “The Morning Star is the most precious and only voice we have in the daily media” £1 weekdays, £1.50 at weekends. from newsagents or online at www.morningstaronline.co.uk
Another Europe is possible; another European Union is not. Protecting rights at work should be a priority. As Unite leader Len McCluskey wrote in the Morning star in november last year: ‘employers should only recruit labour abroad if they are covered by trade union recognition or a collective bargaining agreement. The abuse of migrant labour would be eliminated right away.’ in sectors where much labour is imported – agriculture, transport, leisure, hotel and catering – we need labour laws that protect migrant workers and support union recognition and collective agreements. Millions of ‘economic migrants’ have left these islands and they and their families live in other countries. it is hypocritical for people in a country like Britain – with a history of colonial exploitation and a present-day imperialist presence through the globe – to challenge the need and desire of working people to cross national boundaries. rather we must understand the reasons that compel working people to migrate and help build a world where exploitation is ended. Communists are internationalists. But working class internationalism is not just giving support to Palestinian national rights, anti-fascists in Ukraine or greek union and social movements ﬁghting iMf/european Bank/eU diktats. it means ﬁghting as hard for the rights of migrant workers here as we do for our ourselves in the clear understanding that we share the same class interests and face the same enemies. TOny COnwAy COnVenes The COMMUnisT PArTy's AnTi-fAsCisT, AnTi-rACisT COMMissiOn
ruskin house 23 Coombe road Croydon Cr01Bd editorial team: Derek Kotz, Anita Halpin, Deirdre O’Neil, Nick Wright
Published on Mar 14, 2018