As the 23rd June referendum on whether the United Kingdom will leave or stay in the European Union draws ever closer a variety of claim and counterclaim about the benefits of exit or remain in the EU fills the media.
The ever increasingly pessimistic economic projections of the remain in the EU campaign has drawn much criticism. Even from those who support Britain’s continued membership of the EU have warned against the negative impact that fear-based campaigning can have. Another disturbing aspect of the remain campaign has been the alliance of unelected European bureaucrats, big business interests, untrustworthy politicians, accountants, bankers, along with the IMF and World Bank who have supported Britain’s continued membership. A gathering of naked self- interest groups that would put off many from voting to stay in the EU.
It is galling that these establishment figures who are known to want to drive down ordinary peoples living conditions suddenly pretend to be the protectors of workers rights. In truth it is the EU that has been behind assaults on wages, pensions, collective bargaining and other workers’ rights across the EU. The European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Council are some of the very ones demanding wage “moderation” across the EU.
EU attacks on wages and collective bargaining was clear in those countries which relied on “bailouts” from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the financial crisis of 2008. In exchange for bailouts, these countries had to introduce so called “reforms” insisted upon by the Troika of EU, European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF as in the case of Ireland, Greece and Portugal. These resulted in attacks on wages, social services and public ownership and demands for labour market “reforms”. Including the abolition of systems of collective bargaining resulting in a decline in wages.
It is because the EU acts overwhelmingly in the interests of big business and against the interests of workers that some trade unions are calling for a Leave vote on June 23rd. Included are RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers), ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen), BFAWU (Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union).
(Personal view written and submitted by Alastair Kneale)