On Tuesday 3 February, five UNISON members from the North West are travelling to Brussels as part of a 100 person delegation for the next round of negotiations of the controversial free trade deal between the EU and the USA, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The delegation will be taking part in a demonstration at the European Commission against TTIP, meeting other activists and civil society groups from across Europe, as well as meeting up with North West MEPs to voice their concerns about the trade deal.
TTIP is proving to be one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that the European Commission has ever tried to implement. Critics have argued that the trade deal would damage the NHS, put other public services at risk of privatisation and give unprecedented power to international corporations. The treaty would allow governments to be sued by corporations if their laws or policies damaged the company’s profits. In January 2015 the European Commission published the results of a public consultation on TTIP in which 97% of the responses were opposed to the deal.
The #noTTIP train to Brussels has been organised by Global Justice Now, a campaigning organisation based in London that is part of a Europe-wide coalition of NGOs, trade unions and activist groups who are opposing the trade deal.
The 100 people who are taking the train to Brussels are coming from all over the UK and from different walks of life. Many of them are travelling with a particular concern of what might be adversely impacted if the trade deal went through. These concerns include the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, employment rights, fracking, data rights, the availability of HIV medication and regulatory standards on food and agriculture.
David Owen, a UNISON member from Halton and Chair of the UNSON North West International Committee said:
“UNISON is totally committed to our NHS, public services and employment rights. TTIP is a great threat to all these things as it hands powers to corporations and undermines the ability of democratically elected national governments to make decisions. TTIP is an agreement negotiated in secret by those who wish to bind EU countries into trade and business policies that many governments within the EU are directly opposed to. It is vital that this Trade Agreement is fought against and stopped. We’re going to Brussels to call for our MEPs to defend their regions, constituents and communities against the threat posed by TTIP.”
Joining David in Brussels will be Rebecca Call (Wirral Branch), Tracy Delaney (Oldham), Michael Melia (North West Gas) and Peter Thorne (Burnley).
Guy Taylor, the trade justice campaigner for Global Justice Now and the organiser of the #NoTTIP train said:
“It’s unheard of to see so many people travelling to Brussels to lobby their MEPs like this, and that’s testament to just how hugely controversial and unpopular TTIP has become. David Cameron waxes lyrical about national sovereignty, but in pushing for this deal he is wilfully handing sovereignty to big business. The deal is not really about trade, it’s about entrenching the position of the one percent. It should be abandoned.”