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

GMB Issues Dire Warning as ‘Toxic’ CETA Trade Deal Comes into Force

Thursday, September 14, 2017

UK will be locked into damaging deal for 20 years – even after we leave EU says GMB.

GMB has issued a dire warning as the ‘toxic’ CETA trade deal comes into force next week.

The free trade deal with Canada means the UK will lose control of its ability to decide which public services are outsourced and which are not; foreign multinational companies will be able to influence UK laws covering food safety and environment and, worst of all, corporations will be given the ability to sue the British government if it does anything to affect their projected profits.

GMB warns the deal, which goes live on September 21, [1] amounts to a corporate land grab.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International officer, said:

“CETA amounts to a free trade deal with the USA via the back door given that 85% of US corporations have subsidiaries in Canada.

“The fact it will be enforced without being voted on in Parliament is simply not acceptable and is a bad precedent for trade deals negotiated post-Brexit.

“We should not be party to any deals that will tie us in for 20 years given that we are going to leave the EU and that CETA is opposed by trade unions on both sides of the Atlantic.

“This is nothing more than a corporate land grab.”

Kathleen Walkershaw, GMB European Officer, added:

“CETA is a very damaging trade deal - and the worry is it will be the blue print for future post-Brexit deals.

"By nodding through this agreement without putting it to Parliamentary vote, the Government has potentially doomed jobs standards and our cherished public services.

“All political parties seemed to have allowed CETA to quietly slip into force, with minimal parliamentary scrutiny.

“The sad reality is that the UK will be held to investment obligations for up to 20 years, and furthermore the UK government, in disarray generally with Brexit negotiations, will become increasingly tempted to use these off the peg existing agreements as its framework for new trade arrangements post Brexit – so the worst of all worlds.

“UK trade policy needs to go urgently back to the drawing board and start putting people before profit.


Contact: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to editors:


[2] GMB’s has a number of serious concerns about CETA, including:

· CETA would empower thousands of corporations to sue governments over legitimate and non-discriminatory measures to protect people and the planet. The balance of power is tipped too far in the favour of corporations.

· Nothing would stop corporations from using CETA’s investor rights to bully decision makers away from public interest regulation, for example to tackle climate change.

· CETA’s Investment Court System (ICS) grants highly enforceable rights to investors – but no corresponding obligations. It does not enable citizens, communities or trade unions to bring claims against corporations which violate environmental, labour, health, safety, or other rules.

· Protection of labour rights and sustainable development cannot be effectively enforced through sanctions in the same way that a corporation's will be under CETA.

· CETA severely limits governments’ ability to create, expand, and regulate public services or reverse privatisations. Studies have indicated that CETA will lead to significant job losses and inequality is expected to be higher than without the agreement.

· It will impact fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy and data protection and limit the EU’s/Canada’s ability to roll back excessive intellectual property rights (IPR) that limit access to knowledge and innovation.

· CETA would expose farmers to competitive pressures - increase corporate control over seeds; obstruct buy-local food policies; and threaten high food processing and production standards.

· Like TTIP, much of the negotiation on CETA has taken place in private.

Share this page