The Regional Secretaries of UNI Americas and UNI Europa, Adriana Rosenzwaig and Oliver Roethig, gave their full support to the statement made by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.
Without the following changes, the trade union movement in the Americas and Europe can only reject CETA:
- Drop the “VIP process for foreign investors” in an agreement between countries “with fully developed and effective court systems”.
- Violations of CETA’s labour provisions should “be subject to its dispute settlement process and punishable ultimately with sanctions”. The CLC/ETUC joint statement notes that “the privileged status for investors stands in sharp contrast with the very mild labour standard provisions which have no enforcement mechanism”.
- Ensure that new services are not subject to “liberalisation by default” as a result of the so-called “negative list” of services which are excluded from liberalisation. The trade unions state “no sensible government can reasonably make such a commitment”.
- Categorically exclude public services from liberalisation.
- Delete “unconditional” access of foreign firms to public procurement contracts. While open to foreign firms bidding for contracts, the trade unions argue that “local governments should have the ability to attach social and environmental conditions to their public tenders”.
The on-going negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TTIP) between the USA and the EU are less advanced, but drafts show similar deficits.
For UNI Americas and UNI Europa the two agreements are only acceptable insofar they provide a global model for a trade agreement that is fair, sustainable and social as well as ensures competitiveness through quality rather than through social dumping. The world needs a wage increase now – both CETA and TTIP should contribute, not least by facilitating collective bargaining in an ever more globalised world. Indeed, CETA and TTIP should promote best practices in terms of social and labour rights on both sides of the Atlantic. A minimum requirement is that the contracting parties sign and implement the ILO conventions. A particular flagship initiative would be to use the two agreements to extend coverage of European style workers involvement in transnational companies to all US/Canadian/EU operations. Let us start with creating trans-atlantic works councils.
Unfortunately, CETA and TTIP as they stand now remain far removed from our expectation that they set a global standard negotiated in an open and democratic process and in dialogue with trade unions and civil society.
UNI Americas and UNI Europa will continue cooperating closely with their American, Canadian and European affiliates – also with UNI Global Union and the entire trade union movement – to ensure that only agreements that meet our redlines will enter force.
Read more in the article Trade unions demand: Make CETA a ‘gold standard’ trade agreement
Elke Zander, Communications Officer, UNI Europa