Composite on European Single Currency to TUC

CYWU moved the main TUC composite on the single European Currency this year. In speaking to the motion General Secretary Doug Nicholls, said the following:

President Congress, I am proud to be moving this composite on behalf of my union which is opposed to the euro. We are flattered as a small union each year that such distinguished guests as the President of the European TUC are flown in to comment on our motions before the vote is taken, but you know Emilio, I would be more convinced of your arguments on the euro if just one of the 300 million people in the eurozone had had a vote on the matter.

 

The drive to the euro is a political and constitutional question with serious economic consequences. The political drive is to replace national governments with one European government. It is a simple truth: whoever controls the currency controls the government.

 

We heard yesterday of the difference between indulgence and influence. Currently our elected government influences the way things go in Britain. In turn trade unions seek to influence government. Under the single currency this form of democratic influence becomes impossible. If we join the single currency the key levers of national political power, the control of interest rates and exchange rates as well as our gold reserves will be handed over to unelected bankers who meet in secret and who are forbidden to listen to national, let alone trade union demands. If we lose these powers, a rump parliament would only be left with wage and employment levels to massage. Wages would go down, unemployment would go up.

 

The lasting contribution of the British trade union movement to our country’s history has been to shape our democratic culture. Our predecessors at Tolpuddle won the right to combine. Having combined it was possible to end the corruption of a Parliament of the rich for the rich. Universal suffrage was won. Trade Unions formed a political party to represent their interests, then to form a government for the country. This democratic heritage goes if the euro comes in. Neither our elected government nor we would have influence within it. That’s the real form of marginalisation we should be fearing. The jungle of globalisation doesn’t become any better because if gets bigger.

 

In truth as a nation we have prospered outside the euro in partnership with our elected government – unemployment down to half that in the eurozone countries, getting back on track with a bit of public service investment and investment into our country from overseas at an all time high, including from countries in the eurozone who don’t like the low growth there.

 

Some have seen the euro as a salvation for manufacturing. This is a bit like asking your assassin to become your undertaker as well. The euro offers no salvation for the wealth creating base or the public services, the two being completely linked anyway. The more we spend on public services the better for manufacturing. Germany, the powerhouse of the euro, saw 50,000 business insolvencies following its introduction and unemployment has soared there as a direct result. Now to add insult to injury the ECB is demanding Germany cuts its public spending further to stay within the single currency guidelines.

 

Prices have gone up in the eurozone, wages have not kept pace, there’s pension debt throughout Europe, everything that moves is being privatised. If countries can’t meet the convergence criteria they sell off state assets to reduce public spending. And it’s the drive to the euro that underpins PPP and PFI here. So if we want to keep public services public we are going to have to tear up the Amsterdam Treaty.

 

Uniquely in Europe, the British economy is based on world trade and house ownership and in a single currency we would be squeezed into a straight jacket tied up by the people we do not elect. And anyone in our Movement who thinks we could trim down to fit the straightjacket by devaluing the pound hasn’t read the recent key economic reports on this or felt the suffering of those who took this route elsewhere.

 

Let’s be clear when this motion is carried we don’t expect the TUC to call for an early referendum, particularly not before the next General Election. We expect the General Council to present to us accurate and objective information about our key interests: wages, prices, unemployment, manufacturing and public services throughout the eurozone countries. And I am one of those who believes that a special TUC Congress should be called when the referendum is announced.

 

With this motion we apply a sixth political test for the country: that is: is the British trade union movement absolutely certain it’s best for us. If we have any doubt we should stay out. We want unequivocal guarantees as we do in any negotiation, particularly one as major as this that is for all time. In taking this stance we’ll reconnect with public and our own members’ thinking. Polls must show most trade union members are opposed to the euro. Our generation must link our movement up again to its origin in the dempcratic struggle against globalisation and for genuine interdependance and independance of peaceful nations. Support the composite and recall Congress before we fall into never never land for ever. 

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