A meeting convened by RMT at Tolpuddle, included speakers from the London School of Economics and the Teachers' Federation in Australia, who analysed the threat of EU-sponsored movement of labour directed at conditions, wages and union organisation in Britain. Here, Brian Denny of No2EU-Yes to Democracy campaign analyses 'Mode 4'.
EU pushes bonded labour
‘Mode 4’ is coming your way – Brian Denny of the No2EU – Yes to Democracy campaign investigates
The European Union is currently involved in secret negotiations to agree an EU/India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) designed to allow European capital to take over Indian financial and other services through the ‘liberalisation’ of these markets.
In return, India is demanding ‘Mode 4’ access to EU markets, a trade concession that allows transnational corporations to bring temporary workers from outside the EU into the EU on lower rates of pay – a new form of bonded labour.
Such a FTA will mean mass privatisation and opening up of Indian markets in return for importing a huge ‘reserve army of labour’ into the EU to batter down wages and conditions to increase corporate profits. Moreover, if agreed, such trade commitments are effectively permanent and irreversible under law despite the fact that no electorate has voted for it.
Mode 4 explained
Under Mode 4 a firm with a contract in another member state can bring its ‘own’ workers and covers a huge number of professions (see table).
The main Mode 4 categories are ‘Intracorporate Transferees’(ICTs), workers brought in to work in the same company across borders – for which there are no limits – and Contractual Service Suppliers(CSSs), workers brought in by a transnational and supplied as agency workers into other firms from inside or even outside of the EU. This will lead to huge levels of social dumping as free movement of both services and workers within the EU continues to undermine trade union strength and pay rates, with considerable downward pressure on wages among the most vulnerable workers in the UK. All workers in
rural areas should be on the alert. Mode 4 arrangements will have even greater impact if the Government manages to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.
Reckless and wrong
The TUC believes that it would be “reckless” for the UK government to sign-up to the proposed Mode 4 request without carrying out a careful impact assessment on the UK economy and resident labour market. However the TUC believes that, despite repeated requests, “it seems unlikely to happen”.
At EU level European Court of Justice decisions, such as the Laval and Viking cases, have already supported attacks on trade union rights, trumping the rights of business over those of workers’ and unions and leading to increased social dumping.
Who voted for this?
The Lisbon Treaty also further advances EU ‘liberalisation’ enshrined in the Services Directive and greatly increases the powers of the Commission to enforce such policies.
EU structures designed to promote corporate takeover and dominance are well-organised. The major lobbying mechanism on ‘services’ is the European Services Forum (ESF), closely connected to the powerful International Financial Services London (IFSL), now merged with the Corporation of London and UK Trade and Industry, into ‘TheCityUK’.
The broader structure for affecting EU policy is BusinessEurope, formerly UNICE, which has even shared offices with the European Commission. ‘BusinessEurope’ includes global firms such as US oil giant Exxon, and wields strong influence over EU internal and external trade policy.
These corporate bodies are driving EU trade and immigration policies, not elected governments.
Resistance in India
In India resistance to this East India Company-style re-colonisation exercise is growing. On May Day this year, C H Venkatachalam, the general secretary of India’s largest bank workers union, AIBEA, appealed to workers to come together to oppose the privatisation of the banking sector as demanded as part of the FTA.
He warned that “allowing full voting rights for Foreign Direct Investors in banks, increased FDI/Foreign Institutional Investors investment limit in banking sector, higher FDI limit in insurance sector are some of the major challenges which the bank employees cannot afford to ignore”. It is time organised workers here stopped believing in euro fairy tales of ‘social partnership’ with their anti-democratic corporate executioners and started to defend themselves by following the example set by Indian workers. Mode 4 must be blocked.
The following trades and sectors common to rural areas are affected directly by Mode 4
Taxation advisory services
Architectural services, urban and rural planning and landscape architectural services
Engineering services, integrated engineering services
Computer and related services
Research and development services
Technical testing and analysis services
Related scientific and technical consulting services
Maintenance and repair of equipment in the context of an after-sales or after-lease services contract
Site investigation work
Services related to the sale of equipment or to the assignment of a patent.