Trade unionists Against the European Union took the fight to get out of the EU prison house to a packed fringe meeting during TUC congress in Brighton.
Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, promoting his new pamphlet The EU: a view from the left, pointed out that the EU is anti-democratic, anti-socialist and, as long predicted, is in a process of economic decline.
He said that the Tories largely support the EU because it precisely a force for neoliberalism and privatisation.
TUAEU spokesman Brian Denny said that those in the labour movement that currently support EU membership will not be claiming that ‘social Europe’ will be protect workers from Tory attacks including its vicious Trade Union Bill.
“That is largely because ‘Social Europe’ has died a very quiet and strange death.
“The EU is now imposing zero-hours contracts, casualisation and poverty pay as well as smashing up collective bargaining across Europe as part of its structural adjustment programme known as austerity.
“Even the European TUC, which interestingly recently campaigned for a ‘Yes ‘vote in the Greek referendum for more austerity, openly admits that “cuts in salaries, cuts in public services and weakening collective bargaining rights are all on the agenda”,” he said.
Helle Hagenau of No to the EU in Norway, warned that the EU was currently negotiating secret trade deals which institutionalise irreversible mass privatisation of public services, lower safety standards and abolish tariffs for the world’s largest corporations.
“These treaties, currently known as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US and CETA with Canada, create secret courts that allow transnational corporations to sue nation states for huge sums of money,” she said.
Trade union lawyer John Hendy said that the EU’s neoliberal employment model openly calls for wages to reflect productivity, which means cutting wages even further allegedly to compete with the ‘core’ high-investment economies of France and Germany.
“This has sparked unprecedented levels of unemployment particularly in so-called ‘peripheral’ countries.
“The European Commission, IMF and the European Central Bank now directly intervene in national wage negotiations in Ireland, Greece and Romania in order to weaken collective bargaining.
“And it’s working, for instance previously in Romania 98 per cent of workers were covered by collective agreements today that figure is around 20 per cent,” he said.
Brian Denny warned that a new form of EU colonialism was developing whereby wealth was being directly transferred from the periphery to the core particularly in Greece and now Ukraine.
“This colonial transfer of capital takes the form of interest payments on ever rising debt, creating permanent austerity which enforces mass privatisation and allows the takeover of the colony’s banking system and bank assets in order to transfer wealth to shareholders of the colonizing country’s private bankers and investors.
“That is the structural adjustment model we are being asked to accept by the Europhiles yet working people don’t want it, the labour movement is at a crossroads, embrace this imperialist nightmare or resist,” he said.