May 19th: One of the first issues facing MEPs after the forthcoming election will be the ratification of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.
Last week, Unite asked all European Parliament candidates to pledge that, if elected, they will seek to amend the TTIP to protect our National Health Service, other public services and workers’ rights.
Today (Monday 19th May), the union held a press briefing and photocall to reveal the names of those candidates who have signed the pledge. They are Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin), Alex Attwood (SDLP), Tina McKenzie (NI21) and Ross Brown (Green Party).
Thanking the candidates who signed the pledge, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“TTIP is a free trade agreement which will not only make it almost impossible for public sector), but may also limit the ability of national governments to select service providers. The agreement is likely to include provisions that will enable US companies to sue British and other EU governments for any losses they claim arise from breaches of the agreement.
“The current intention is to establish an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that will act as a tribunal to rule on disputes above the heads of national courts and democratically-accountable legislation. Proposals are for the ISDS to be able to award unlimited settlements in favour of plaintiffs.
“The proponents of the agreement say that it will act as a stimulus for economic growth and jobs but have been able to provide no evidence in support of their claims. Instead, our analysis is that this agreement will further erode social and environmental protections, promote wider privatisation of public services, offshore more jobs and stimulate a race to the bottom in terms of workers’ pay and terms and conditions.
“I would like to thank Ross Brown of the Green Party, Martina Anderson of Sinn Féin, Tina McKenzie of NI21 and Alex Attwood of the SDLP for signing our pledge and committing themselves to protect the NHS and other public services on which the citizens of Northern Ireland rely”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.