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Brussels trade deals threaten UK workers’ rights

Brussels trade deals threaten UK workers’ rights


The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated between the EU and the US has hit many stumbling blocks from opponents.

Among other things, these include concerns about regulation, complications arising from the UK’s Brexit vote and the forthcoming US election. However, TTIP has not gone away.

Meanwhile, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is staggering to the finish line, amid recent demonstrations across seven German cities, five Austrian cities and in Brussels, among others, ahead of last week’s informal trade ministers’ meeting in Slovakia.

CETA is signed but not ratified, but it could well apply to the UK long after we’ve left the EU.

Many campaigners have warned that CETA could be a model for a post-Brexit future EU-UK deal. The CETA deal includes provisions to set up a multilateral investment tribunal. While claiming to be a departure from the Investor States Dispute Settlement within TTIP these still represent a massive threat to public services and government regulation of consumer, environmental and worker protections.

A CETA-style deal would not only significantly reduce the UK’s access to EU markets but also increase the power of investors to carve up public services and tear down employment, health and safety and environmental regulation.

There are also more direct threats of privatisation and marketisation of public services and inadequate defence mechanisms for workers’ rights. 

Trade unions in the UK and across the EU want CETA stopped for good. If the CETA  agreement is finalised, it will make it easier for other deals that hurt workers, public services and regulations, like TTIP, be agreed.

According to the TUC, CETA should certainly not be a model for an agreement between the UK and the EU. It wouldn’t provide us the market access needed to protect jobs in manufacturing and services, and nor would it maintain our workplace rights.

There is rising pressure to address the many concerns around these deals and to rethink them – not least because of the implications for future trade deals.

Please take this opportunity to write to your Member of Parliament – expressing concern, but also to send a clear message that we strongly oppose any trade deal – now or in the future – that threatens our public services, erodes regulation and does not protect workers’ rights. Essentially, we are not for sale.

Additional resources

The Trade Justice Movement has excellent resources covering trade deals in general as well as detail on TTIP and CETA. TUC commentary on both may also be accessed via the blog Stronger Unions.

Beverley Hall

Beverley Hall


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