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TTIP must be opposed

Disabled members urged to join fight against EU-US trade deal
Helen Hague, Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

A huge corporate power grab of health care and public services would have a devastating impact on UK citizens.

But that’s just what could happen if the “Trojan Horse” – an EU-US trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)–now being drawn up behind closed doors, goes ahead.

By removing “regulatory barriers” on both sides of the Atlantic, hard won health, consumer, worker and environmental protections would be weakened.

If the deal between the EU and the US goes ahead, corporations would, for the first time, be able to sue governments if they make public policy decisions that could harm future profits. It’s an alarming prospect.

Disabled people,  many of whom are heavily reliant on health and public services and who have already been hit by austerity, closures and cuts, would be severely affected by the inevitable “race to the bottom”.


But not enough people realise just how high the stakes are – including those most vulnerable.

Which is why disabled activists in Unite, meeting in Eastbourne on March 19, voted to run an awareness campaign among disabled members “to oppose TTIP in its entirety.”

There was passion from the rostrum as delegates spelt out the price of the potential deal, which, if it becomes reality, will be the largest bilateral treaty ever negotiated.

Peter Gillard, from the national disabled members committee, said it was all about transnationals boosting already inflated profits.

“I’m fully in favour of solidarity between trade unions in the US and in Britain,” Gillard said. “I’m less supportive of allowing the bosses to basically screw us in terms of increasing their profits.”

East Midlands delegate Mike Thompson, noted how sovereign power risked being taken away from elected governments and given to corporations.

A precedent already exists — tobacco giant Philip Morris is now suing the Australian government for lost profits under similar trade legislation because it has brought in plain packaging to discourage people from taking up smoking.

“These treaties allow multinational companies to operate like pirates, hold governments hostage and actually decide what policies governments can follow and what ideas the ordinary people like us can talk about,” Thompson said.

Unite is at the forefront of campaigning and lobbying against TTIP. By adding their voice and spreading the word, disabled activists and members will play their part in getting the message out there, that TTIP is a treaty too far.


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