'No' campaigns gather speed
WORKERS, MAR 2008 ISSUE
UNITE – one of Ireland's largest unions – has confirmed that it is to campaign for a No vote in the coming Lisbon Treaty referendum (Irish law dictates that Ireland must hold a referendum, but it seems increasingly likely to be the only member state to have one). Unite Irish regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said that the union would call upon its 70,000 members in the Republic to reject the treaty, criticising the government's "seeming desire to railroad the treaty through without providing commitments on what it will mean".
Several major aspects of EU policy have contributed to the union's disenchantment with the treaty: the government's empty promises and sleight of hand on the exploitation of growing numbers of unregulated agency workers; the European Court of Justice ruling against union representation at Ryanair, which set the clock back on workers' rights 100 years; poverty in old age due to inadequate or stolen pensions; and the shifting of power from smaller to larger states. Ireland is one of the smaller states and has good reason (as do we in Britain) to fear the enabling powers of the Treaty, which could lead to an EU superstate.
Elsewhere, in England, Wales and Scotland, while party whips attempt to silence opposition in parliament, union calls for a referendum grow louder, building on votes won at both the TUC and the Scottish TUC conferences.
And opening up a new front in the fight against the Lisbon Treaty, the organisation I Want A Referendum (www.iwantareferendum.org) has commissioned the Electoral Reform Society to run a series of referendums in parliamentary constituencies across Britain. The idea is to put pressure on the government by showing the real strength of feeling on this issue.
I Want A Referendum estimate that over half a million people will take part in these constituency polls “in the first phase”. There have been referendums organised on this issue in local parishes, using parish law, but this is the first time a poll will have been attempted across entire constituencies.