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Democrat March-April 2012 (No. 128)

Report by Brian Denny

EU transport policies
= privatisation

Demonstration in Brussels by transport workers' unions

RMT members join trade unionists from across Europe to oppose EU moves to hand over public transport to private interests.

 Transport unions from across the EU marched through Brussels last month to call for an end to the EU drive to privatise public transport networks across the continent.

Twenty unions representing thousands of transport workers, from Britain, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Italy, and Spain took over the centre of Brussels with a rally and protest.

The unions were marking the first anniversary of the European Commission’s Transport White Paper, which will open up domestic passenger rail services, bus, and metro and ferry services to private companies.

EU transport ‘liberalisation’ rules force member states to introduce ‘market competition’ to outsource and privatise transport networks across ferry, bus and rail networks, attacking the fundamental concept of 'socialised' public transport. 

The privatisation of transport infrastructure and services with other key national assets is a core demand of the IMF/EU/ECB troika now imposing austerity and mass privatisation on Greece and Portugal. 

EU Commissioners plan to create a “single European transport network” dominated by private sector monopoly interests that will lead to cuts in pay, more expensive services for passengers and maximum profits for big business.

Addressing the rally, RMT general secretary Bob Crow insisted workers needed to go on the attack against EU transport diktats.

Demonstration in Brussels by transport workers' unions “The transfer of ownership and control of transport to Europe’s biggest private banks and corporate monopolies is an attack on national democracy and an anti-democratic veto by big business over the sovereign rights of the people,” he said.

World Federation of Trades Unions representative and member of the Pan-Cyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) Pieris Pieri explained that the EU “wanted to put transport under control of capital”.

He called for “class orientated trade unionism” to fight for public transport to be run in the public interest.

“There is only one reply to this onslaught by big capital – the struggle of the working class is intensifying – the trade union movement must provide a powerful answer,” he said.

Italian trade union USB national secretary Francesu Staccioli backed the rally in defence of publically-owned and publically-run transport networks.