Ireland – workers campaign against Lisbon Treaty

AROUND 100 people attended a public meeting on the Lisbon Treaty (the renamed European constitution) at Dublin’s Liberty Hall on 18 August. Irish voters upset the plans of Europe’s bosses by rejecting the Treaty in 2008 but a new referendum on Lisbon will be held on 2 October.

Stephen Rigney, Dublin
Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party Ireland, speaking at the European CWI school, photo Bob Severn

Joe Higgins MEP, Socialist Party Ireland, speaking at the European CWI school, photo Bob Severn

The Dublin meeting was organised by the broad-based Vote No to Lisbon campaign. Speakers included Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins, and RMT union general secretary Bob Crow. Joe explained how the Lisbon Treaty would further open up education, healthcare and public services to the market and privatisation with potentially devastating consequences.

Bob Crow emphasized the European Union’s blatant anti-worker, pro-big business nature. In the British Airways’ OpenSkies and the Irish Ferries disputes, he said, both companies set up new operations abroad to take advantage of lower wage rates and undermine their workers’ pay and conditions.

The Lisbon Treaty would enshrine those practices in European law. Significantly, Britain’s High Courts prevented the BALPA pilots’ union striking to defend pay and conditions, citing European “anti-competition” laws.

These and other rulings for big business completely contradict the Irish establishment and labour and trade union leaders’ arguments that Lisbon is a step forward for workers’ rights.

Both Bob and Joe explained how vital it is not to let struggles to defend jobs and pay become focused into nationalist channels. The Lindsey oil refinery struggle showed that by putting forward a genuine programme demanding decent pay, conditions and jobs for all, nationalist and racist ideas can be cut across.

Joe Higgins also explained how the Lisbon Treaty would give a huge impetus to Europe’s militarisation by demanding that all member states “undertake to progressively increase their military capabilities”. No such demands exist for health or education!

A second No vote would show Europe’s politicians and bosses that workers will not accept attacks on their living standards.

As well as being part of the broad anti-Lisbon campaign, the Socialist Party in Ireland will be organising our own campaigning activities and initiatives.

It will be a great opportunity to discuss with working-class people and to put forward our alternative of a socialist Europe working in the interests of the majority of Europe’s working people and young, not those of the capitalist market.

RMT TUC fringe meeting

  • Respect the Irish ‘No’ vote.
  • Reject the Lisbon Treaty.

Speakers: RMT general secretary Bob Crow. Unite regional organiser Jimmy Kelly, People’s Movement secretary Frank Keoghan and Irish Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins.

Monday 14 September, 12.30pm. The Liverpool bar, 14 James Street, Liverpool, next to James Street Station.

All welcome