Brian Denny reports on the recent launch of the the Vote No to Lisbon coalition in Ireland
A PACKED Liberty Hall in Dublin this week (18 August) saw the launch of the Vote No to Lisbon coalition, campaigning for a No vote in the second Irish treaty referendum due on 2 October.
Against the backdrop of the worse economic crisis for a generation and a long-running dock strike in Dublin speaker after speaker said that the Lisbon Treaty would only make things worse.
A launch statement said that the Lisbon Treaty - the same in substance as the previous EU constitution - would do nothing to help Ireland out of the current economic crisis.
"Instead it would take us in the direction of more privatisation, more right-wing economic policy, more militarisation, less neutrality and less democratic control," it said.
UNITE Irish regional secretary Jimmy Kelly warned that should the renamed EU constitution come into force, workers would rely on the EU's European Court of Justice(ECJ) in any dispute between them and their government.
"This EU court has already made it clear in a number of cases that the fundamental rights it recognises are not absolute but could be varied or restricted in the interests of 'common organisation of the market' or to advance 'objectives of general interest pursued by the Community'," he warned.
EU rules on 'free movement' of capital, goods, services and labour has already led to widespread social dumping in Ireland where exploited foreign labour is being used as a battering ram to drive down wages and increase profits.
Tens of thousands marched in Dublin a few years ago after Irish seafarers were sacked by Irish Ferries and replaced with sweated east European labour, a union-busting policy which is actively encouraged by EU internal market rules and ECJ rulings.
Today Dublin dock workers at Marine Terminals Ltd are entering their 7th week on strike after a ruthless management forced redundancies, imposed "take it or leave it" contracts, slashed pay and worsening conditions.
The company, 49 per cent owned by Deutsche Bank, is refusing to engage with the Irish State industrial relation bodies and has brought in scabs from the UK.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that it was ironic that, after hundreds of years of Irish labour being exploited in Britain, exploited British workers were being used to break a dock strike in Dublin.
"It's no good blaming those workers, it is the employers and European Union rules that has created this mess and the Lisbon Treaty will make it even worse.
"This Treaty is a privateer's charter that removes power from elected governments and hands it to unaccountable EU institutions like the European Court of Justice.
"This EU court has already made a number of draconian anti-trade union rulings which give big business huge new powers over organised labour. "This has directly led to disputes like the Lindsey oil refinery strike, Irish Ferries and the current Dublin dock strike and it is time to say No once more," he said to applause.
Frank Keoghan of the People's Movement has also made clear in a recent pamphlet that the ECJ Ruffert judgment opens the door to the introduction of the 'country of origin' principle.
"This means that contractors from other member states could exercise their freedom to provide services at the same rates and conditions of employment as apply in their country of origin, seriously undermining the wages and conditions of Irish workers," he said.
Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins warned that the Lisbon Treaty enshrined the running of essential public services, including health and education, for profit.
"If it is passed, the EU Commission would uphold the right of big business to profit from public services, over and above the rights of workers to take action to defend these services.
"It could intervene to prevent even a mildly progressive government from investing to improve public services as this in their view 'distorts the market'.
"This is a profoundly undemocratic document, which seeks to impose right-wing economic policies at a time when the neo-liberal policies of privatisation that has directly led to a catastrophic collapse in the living standards," he said.
He also warned that EU commissioners, going back to Jacques Delors, had expressed their frustration at the EU's lack of military capacity.
"Lisbon will represent another staging post towards Delors' dream of a fighting force to, in his words, 'fight the resource wars of the 21st century'," he said.
Sinn Féin vice president Mary Lou McDonald said that the Irish government was urging a Yes vote by claiming that so-called 'guarantees' gained at a recent EU summit would change how the treaty would affect Ireland.
"These are cynical and empty political promises that do not alter the treaty in any way and the so-called 'guarantees' on workers rights simply do not address the issues concerned.
"The government could have argued for a social protocol in the treaty which trade unions have been calling for across Europe.
"Instead with have these meaningless 'guarantees' that are essentially designed to deflect from the fact that the electorate are being asked to vote again on the same discredited treaty," she said.
This above article originally appeared in the Morning Star on 21 August.
Campaign Against Euro-federalism: http://www.poptel.org.uk/against-eurofederalism/
People's Movement: http://www.people.ie/english1.html
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2009 Brian Denny