Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Strikes Coming?

The Times is reporting that nuclear power plant employees will vote Monday morning on whether to join engineering, construction and maintenance staff in strikes over the apparent exclusion of contracts to UK nationals in favour of cheaper alternatives from within the EU.

The unions despite being supporters of the Labour Party and in general of the EU are not altogether happy with the UK position within the EU. Trade Unionists Against The EU Constitution joined up with The Democracy Movement and I Want A Referendum to organise a lobby of Parliament last February.

The TUAEUC have carried on their campaign and are campaigning for a NO vote in the second Ireland referendum this year.

Gordon Brown only has himself to blame for uttering the line "British Jobs For British Workers". The fact is Gordon Brown can not deliver British Jobs for British Workers because this would be against EU law. However, by stating that he would do this (and he must have known at the time that this is impossible, which adds to the stupidity of the statement) he was using a line designed to attack his enemies, in the hope that his supporters would not kick up a fuss when it is not delivered upon. The BBC (in the linked report) were not shy to say opponents branded it dog-whistling and racist.

I really do not understand what Gordon Brown and his communications team were trying to achieve when he borrowed a campaign line from the BNP, but whatever that aim was, it has backfired. There will be no sympathy on the Left if he tries to quash these strikes, especially as they are striking for something he has promised.

I hope that these strike lead to a wider dialogue about the EU and exactly how much control the EU has over our laws and our lives. The strikers are marching because the Unions members are not getting employed. But, [it would seem] the employers are not breaking EU law, The UK Government cannot change the law or make any accommodations - so how can the strikes be resolved? Either these companies break EU law which leaves them open to prosecution, or the UK Government does which leaves itself open to EU Fines or the strikers accept the case as is and back down... that third option does not seem likely.

It also raises other questions of accountability. It used to be in this country that if you had a complaint you could write to your MP or to a councillor. In industrial disputes you could strike, you could if you got enough people to agree with you force for changes to be made.

That is no longer the case. What can any person or group do if we do not like or agree with a directive from the European Commission? The answer is absolutely nothing. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing any citizen, or group of citizens anywhere in the EU can do if you disagree with the European Commission. You could petition your MEP to raise it in the EU parliament, but an MEP has very little sway, if they get the opportunity to speak they are limited to one minute. The EU Parliament is also very unlikely to challenge the European Commission. It is unlikely that they would even raise this issue because it is a important part of the common market and of establishing a Common European Nationality.

So I am not sure how these strikes will play out, but, there is the potential these strikes could lead to unrest and things could get more hostile, as it is impossible to deliver upon the strikers demands. Hopefully it will open the eyes of many voters about where the laws of this country are actually made, and how powerless the UK Parliament really is in areas of "EU Competencies".

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