GMB Experts in the World of Work
Join GMB today
 Follow @GMB_union

EU Must Say NO To TiSA

Monday, October 26, 2015

GMB Call For EU To Oppose Trade In Services Agreement Which Transfers Sovereignty Over Labour Market Regulations From Elected Parliaments

New proposed trade agreement removes right of 52 nations to make labour market laws in 37 sectors of the economy and promotes undercutting and race to the bottom says GMB.

GMB is calling on the EU Trade Commissioner, EU Parliament and MEPs to oppose a proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) to extend the rights of employers in 37 sectors to move labour across 52 nations including the EU and the US with no social standards whatsoever. See notes to editors below for copy of GMB statement.

In June 2015 secret plans were exposed to extend the scope and coverage of the existing General Agreement of Trade and Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) across 37 service sectors. It included construction which is defined as a production industry in the UK. See notes to editors below for GMB press release dated 11th June leak of plans for free movement of labour with no social standards across 52 nations.

TISA commits participating countries to enact non-reversible privatisations and deregulate a wide range of services for the benefit of transnational corporations. There are paragraphs on the removal of restrictions concerning the movement of ‘natural persons’, a reference to migrant workers who would have no legal protections for their labour rights.

The countries involved in the negotiations are the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and Uruguay.

The 37 industries covered are as follows:

Professional services:

1.      Accounting, auditing and bookkeeping services

2.      Architectural services

3.      Engineering services

4.      Integrated engineering services

5.      Urban planning and landscape architectural services

6.      Medical & dental services

7.      Veterinary services

8.      Services provided by midwives, nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical personnel

Computer and related services:

9.      Consultancy services related to the installation of computer hardware

10.  Software implementation services

11.  Data processing services

12.  Data base services )

13. Other

Research and Development services:

14.  R&D services on natural sciences

15.  R&D services on social sciences and humanities

16.  Interdisciplinary R&D services

Other business services

17.  Advertising services

18.  Market research and public opinion polling services

19.  Management consulting services

20.  Services related to management consulting

21.  Technical testing & analysis services

22.  [CH propose: Services incidental to manufacturing]

23.  Related scientific and technical consulting services

24.  Maintenance and repair of equipment (not including maritime vessels, aircraft or other transport equipment)

25.  Specialty design services

Construction and related engineering services:

26.  General construction work for buildings

27.  General construction work for civil engineering

28.  Installation and assembly work

29.  Building completion and finishing work

30.  Other

Environmental services:

31.  Sewage services

32.  Refuse disposal services

33.  Sanitation and similar services

34.  Other

Tourism and travel related services:

35.  Hotels and Restaurants

36.  Travel Agencies and Tour Operators services

37.  Tourist Guides services

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, said “GMB is opposed to the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) which should properly be called Transfer of Sovereignty Agreement (ToSA).

This is because the measures contained within it effectively prevent the right of nation states to legislate, regulate and administer labour market laws as they see fit whether that be at national, provincial or local level.

If TISA becomes a reality, it will herald a wholesale transfer of power from elected parliaments to corporate boardrooms in an effective privatisation of the world’s governance. The desire and need for infinite profit growth on the part of transnational companies will accelerate a race to the bottom for workers and their families. It comes as no surprise therefore, that some countries have now wisely withdrawn from this agreement.

GMB is fundamentally opposed to Mode 4 provisions that could see workers moved around the globe without any employment protection whatsoever and the concurrent potential undercutting of superior labour legislation in host countries.

If EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is serious about protecting the social and regulatory model in the EU she will not sign up to this agreement.”

End

Contact: Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer on 07974 251764 or Kathleen Walker Shaw in Brussels 07841 181549 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 2521823.

Notes to Editors

1 Copy of GMB position on GMB Trade Union position on Plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)

GMB is opposed to the conclusion of a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) as currently constituted because the measures contained within it effectively prevent the right of member states to legislate, regulate and administer as they see fit whether that be at national, provincial or local level. EU Commissioner Malmström recently launched a new trade strategy “Trade for All”. If she is serious about protecting the social and regulatory model in the EU she will not sign up to this agreement.

In terms of trade and public procurement, EU member states are already subject to the rules of the single market and all have individual membership of the WTO, thus binding them to the General Agreements on Trade in Services (GATS). It could well be argued that the ‘trade’ in services is not trade at all but rather a collective agreement that allows transnational corporations to wield disproportionate influence over the internal decision making bodies and mechanisms of sovereign nations. It is therefore a questionable assumption that TISA falls within the purview of the Commission’s competence to negotiate on trade.

Turning to the essence of the Agreement itself, there is no evidence that it will improve the quality of life for European citizens or those of North America, let alone the other signatories to the deal, but there are real fears that the quality and access to services will suffer. As has become the norm in these circumstances when blockbuster trade deals are being mooted, groundless claims are made about TISA being a catalyst for economic “growth” , something that is invariably treated as being broadly positive without any qualification, coupled with an erroneous assumption that increased revenue for multinational companies means more employment opportunities.    

Thanks to Wikileaks, we know that TISA will go far beyond the scope of GATS in terms of restricting what various levels of government can do. There will be more extensive criteria for the rights of commercial entities to influence their decisions in order to protect their interests and the schedules will bring more services under the auspices of two main rules governing national treatment and market access. Supporters of the Agreement maintain that this will not lead to a deterioration of European standards, (GMB believes there are very real risks that it will) but, even in the most optimistic scenario, neither will it improve them, thus begging the question of why any state would want to sign up to it anyway.

We are particularly concerned about the possibility of ratcheting up the coverage of the Agreement through the implementation of ‘most favoured nation’ status, thereby ensuring that the worst aspects of CETA, TTIP and TPP could be incorporated into the text.

We are also fundamentally opposed to Mode 4 provisions that could see workers moved around the globe without any employment protection whatsoever and the concurrent potential undercutting of superior labour legislation in host countries.

Similarly, it is difficult to envisage how EU procurement regulations could survive the implementation of TISA with its emphasis on removing all restrictions to commercial participation in the delivery of any services that were not earmarked for governmental purposes, i.e. supplied in exercise of government authority, especially if a standstill clause were to be included.

In summary, if TISA becomes a reality, it will herald a wholesale transfer of power from elected parliaments to corporate boardrooms in an effective privatisation of the world’s governance. The desire and need for infinite profit growth on the part of transnational companies will accelerate a race to the bottom for workers and their families. It comes as no surprise therefore, that some countries have now wisely withdrawn from this agreement.

Ironically, for an agreement that purports to ‘liberalise’ trade, it will in fact lock countries into a system of narrow deregulatory rules and regulations that will allow them no room for manoeuvre. This is alien to any concept of localised democracy and makes it impossible for GMB to have any position other than outright opposition. 

2 Copy of GMB press release Thursday 11 June 2015 about leaks about TiSA.

GMB Congress In Dublin Told That Leaks About New Trade In Services Agreement (TiSA) Reveal Plans For Free Movement Of Labour With No Social Standards Across 52 Nations

If implemented, TISA would allow multinational corporations to exploit migrant workers with impunity and governments would be powerless to do anything about it GMB Congress told

GMB Congress in Dublin was told today (8 June) that proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) leaked by Wikileaks on 3rd June would extend the rights of employers in 37 sectors  to move labour across 52 countries including the EU and the US with no social standards whatsoever.

The leaked document shows secret plans to extend the scope and coverage of the existing General Agreement of Trade and Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) across 37 service sectors including construction which is defined as a production industry in the UK.

 TISA commits participating countries to enact non-reversible privatisations and deregulate a wide range of services for the benefit of transnational corporations. There are paragraphs on the removal of restrictions concerning the movement of ‘natural persons’, a reference to migrant workers who would have no legal protections for their labour rights.

The countries involved in the negotiations are the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and Uruguay.

The 37 industries covered by the talks are as follows:

Professional services:

1.      Accounting, auditing and bookkeeping services

2.      Architectural services

3.      Engineering services

4.      Integrated engineering services

5.      Urban planning and landscape architectural services

6.      Medical & dental services

7.      Veterinary services

8.      Services provided by midwives, nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical personnel

Computer and related services:

9.      Consultancy services related to the installation of computer hardware

10.  Software implementation services

11.  Data processing services

12.  Data base services )

13. Other

Research and Development services:

14.  R&D services on natural sciences

15.  R&D services on social sciences and humanities

16.  Interdisciplinary R&D services

Other business services

17.  Advertising services

18.  Market research and public opinion polling services

19.  Management consulting services

20.  Services related to management consulting

21.  Technical testing & analysis services

22.  [CH propose: Services incidental to manufacturing]

23.  Related scientific and technical consulting services

24.  Maintenance and repair of equipment (not including maritime vessels, aircraft or other transport equipment)

25.  Specialty design services

 

Construction and related engineering services:

26.  General construction work for buildings

27.  General construction work for civil engineering

28.  Installation and assembly work

29.  Building completion and finishing work

30. Other

Environmental services:

31.  Sewage services

32.  Refuse disposal services

33.  Sanitation and similar services

34.  Other

Tourism and travel related services:

35.  Hotels and Restaurants

36.  Travel Agencies and Tour Operators services

37.  Tourist Guides services

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer speaking at Congress, said “There have been 11 rounds of secret talks involving civil servants from 52 nations to undermine social standards that have been built up over generations. There have been no reports to elected politicians about these talks. Politicians needs to decommission these talks.

The movement of workers should be outside the competence of trade agreements and should be dealt with by nation states in line with ILO conventions.

If implemented, TISA would allow multinational corporations to exploit migrant workers with impunity and governments would be powerless to do anything about it.

The Agreement is the latest in a series of trade deals designed to lock countries in to a neoliberal agenda that gives the corporations unprecedented power and influence to shape the world’s economy for the benefit of their shareholders.”

End

Notes to editors:

The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Annex on Movement of Natural Persons was released on the Wikileaks website on 3 June 2015 and available here:  https://wikileaks.org/tisa/natural-persons/

It was 1 of 17 secret documents released from the ongoing TISA which dates from the 11th round of TiSA negotiations held 9-13 February 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

 

 

Share this page
+1