Democrat January-February 2012 (Number 127)
United protest in Brussels on 28 March against EU rail diktats
RMT is one of the trade unions supporting a united protest by transport workers’ unions in Brussels on the first anniversary of the publication of European Commission White Paper, Wednesday 28 March.
The protest call was made at the congress of the Federation of Portuguese Transport and Communications Unions (FECTRANS) in Lisbon two days after workers brought Portugal to a standstill with air traffic controllers, metro, bus and rail workers, port and dock workers, road hauliers and ferry workers, teachers and hospital staff joining a general strike against EU austerity policies.
FECTRAMS delegates debated the current attacks on democracy and employment rights in Portugal where new anti-union laws were introduced by the government last year, while Portugal’s economy has now been placed under control of the “troika”, the IMF-EU-ECB, as a price for the EU “bailout”.
On January 31 2011 transport trade unions gathered in London to discuss the need for transport workers to build resistance to European Union policies, which promote privatisation, fragmentation, social dumping, outsourcing and attacks on collective employment conditions and workers’ rights. Continuing EU attacks on publicly owned networks and transport workers confirm this analysis and include:
1. The European Commission published in March 2011 its Transport White Paper (‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area’) which demands ‘market opening’ in all areas of transport;
2. In November the European Parliament rubberstamped a ‘recast’ of its 1st rail liberalisation package, imposing the EU’s rail privatisation model – fragmentation, separation, competition – to establish a ‘single European railway area’ as a market for monopoly finance capital and to attack rail workers’ national collective agreements and social rights;
3. Continuing catastrophic decline in maritime employment conditions and lifeline ferry services as a result of EU liberalisation of ‘cabotage’, EU Treaties governing ‘freedom of establishment’ and continuing disastrous consequences from ‘flags of convenience’;
4. Enforced privatisation of urban transport networks under the EU Regulation (2007) on public service obligations in local public transport by road and rail;
5. Abandonment of ‘socialised transport’ in favour of services run in the interests of corporate monopoly capital, where profit becomes the only criteria;
6. More expensive, less efficient public transport for citizens and users, where greed, the domination of financial interests and profit are allowed to destroy jobs, public transport services and communities.
In between the Lisbon and London meetings the political and economic crisis has intensified in the EU but has not stemmed the drive towards privatisation of transport networks, or the flow of EU legislation demanding it.
It is a fact that the privatisation of transport and other national assets is a central demand of the IMF/EU/ECB troika to impose austerity and a mass privatisation programme on Greece and Portugal and to transfer assets to British, French and German banks.