As Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is due to visit Dublin this week, Congress has joined with other groups to warn about the dangers of the Canada Europe Trade Agreement (CETA).
Speaking at the press conference in Buswells hotel this morning, member of Congress Trade working group, Frank Keoghan said that "while not opposed to trade deals in principle, Congress is totally opposed to CETA for a variety of reasons, not least the fct that CETA does not presently contain binding and enforceable measures to ensure ILO core labour standards are respected in its sustainable development chapter"
Full statement below
The ICTU, while not opposed to trade deals in principle, is totally opposed to CETA for a variety of reasons, many of which will be dealt with by others at this press conference. I will consider Canada's record at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the issue of public procurement.
Of the ILO's 189 Conventions, Canada has only ratified 34. Furthermore, it has only ratified eight of the 31 ILO Conventions developed since 1982. Canada has now ratified all eight ILO fundamental Conventions. It had been one of only 24 countries in the world that had not ratified Convention No. 98 – Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining (1949), but it did so last week. Since 1982, unions in Canada had filed more complaints to the ILO's Freedom of Association Committee than the national labour movements of any other country.
Crucially, CETA does not presently contain binding and enforceable measures to ensure ILO core labour standards are respected in its sustainable development chapter, while the public procurement provisions do not include explicit obligations to respect labour and environmental standards nor promote the use of social and environmental criteria in public tenders. It promotes workers' access to labour 'tribunals' rather than recognising and explicitly accepting EU member states' workers' rights.
Public procurement underwrites our social fabric, aslocal and national governments use public tenders to fulfil public policy choices. That means companies bidding for public contracts must abide by agreed criteria that may include social, labour or environmental sustainability clauses.
CETA's Procurement Chapter fails to include any watertight clauses that uphold social criteria. Instead contracts can be awarded to the "most beneficial" or 'the cheapest offer". CETA would therefore limit our ability to redefine and enhance the tools we use to achieve important public policy goals.
Additionally, socially desirable or progressive labour legislation that might affect corporative profits would have to be notified to the stakeholders one year in advance, with every chance that it be rejected behind closed doors.
We support the contention of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) that the "right to regulate" clauses in current trade agreements are not sufficient to protect public services and fundamental rights as they do not specify any legal obligations or rights, are only declaratory and an interpretative tool.
We join the ETUC in calling for a progressive trade agenda, which means not only the inclusion of a social dimension in all trade agreements but also the full preservation and improvement of the right of governments and authorities to regulate the economy in the public interest as they see fit.
CETA is a trade deal for corporate interests. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions reiterates that workers will never accept any trade agreement that doesn't promote decent jobs and growth while safeguarding labour, consumer, environmental and health and safety standards.