THE TRADES Union Congress (TUC) complained yesterday that they have been barred from a seat at the table, demanding involvement in the trade negotiations between the government and foreign powers.
Tory PM Johnson’s government is blocking trade unions from sensitive trade talks despite unions’ offers to ‘sign confidentiality agreements’, according to the TUC.
Business groups are allowed to scrutinise draft texts of trade deals, but for more than a year, trade unions have been prevented from being part of the secretive groups set up by the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Rosa Crawford, TUC trade policy leader said yesterday: ‘It’s been over a year since the trade advisory groups were first established.
‘It beggars belief that trade unions still don’t have a seat at the table more than eight months since the government gave its word that unions would be involved.
‘Trade deals should improve workers’ rights, job opportunities and wages – and decrease global inequalities. But currently, deals are not being done in the interest of working people.’
Membership of these groups requires that members sign non-disclosure agreements, barring them from discussing the details of discussions. The TUC told the government it would be willing to sign these contracts, but it has still not been allowed entry to these sensitive meetings. This is despite a promise made by the government last year that they would be granted access.
The TUC’s exclusion comes as the government is trying to secure deals with Australia, New Zealand, and other members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as part of its effort to join the trade bloc.
Dave Wiltshire, Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance (ATUA) said: ‘All along the only policy of the TUC has been to crawl on its knees before the Tories and the bosses begging for a seat at the table.
‘They are intent on reducing unions to the status of willing accomplices even to the extent of pledging to keep the government’s dirty secrets about smashing workers rights in these negotiations from their members.
‘All this begging for “partnership” and being a valuable junior partner with the government and bosses has been treated with the contempt it deserves by the Tories.
‘These leaders may be prostrate before the government and willing to take an active role in saving bankrupt British capitalism but the working class won’t stand for TUC leaders who care only about seats at the table and refuse to lead any struggle against a government that is cutting benefits throwing millions into poverty.
These leaders must be kicked out and replaced by a leadership that will never collaborate with the Tories but will organise the massive strength of workers by calling a general strike to kick them out and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.’